Sivathanu Pillai says country has left world leaders far behind

India will emerge as the superpower with command over a hypersonic version of the cruise missile technology in five years, said A. Sivathanu Pillai, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited, here on Wednesday.

Having achieved self reliance in cruise missile technology, an ambitious project to increase the missile speed from Mach 2.8 to Mach 7 has been taken up, he said in an exclusive interview to The Hindu.

India has left the world leaders in missile technology far behind with its missile speed of Mach 2.8 which, he said, needed to be maintained and upgraded gradually. The Americans had tested their prototype of an advanced hypersonic weapon concept with a speed of Mach 5.

We are the leaders in speed, precision and delivery. Others, including the powerful developed nations, have subsonic missiles. Our missiles are three times faster than US' Tomahawk and Harpoon missiles. The hypersonic concept will materialise by 2016, he said

Trials for the integration of the missiles into the Indian Air Force (IAF) for air to surface launch have been successful. A new engine for missile launch in air has been developed. The final test-firing of missiles from Sukhoi-30 MKI will be undertaken shortly. After successful trials, the missiles will be integrated into the IAF jets by the year-end. “Indian Army and Navy have already been equipped with them,” he said.

The project on submarine-based underwater supersonic missile launch is in an advanced stage, Mr. Pillai said. The BrahMos Block III missile with advanced guidance would soon be deployed in high-altitude mountain ranges. The missile would boast of high manoeuvring capability at multiple points for steep dive capability from a high altitude. “The missile can hit targets hidden behind mountain ranges too.”

On the weight of missiles, Mr. Pillai said that the country had already developed missiles weighing less. “The weight of a missile does not worry Indian Army and Indian Navy. But, for Air Force, we need to be slimmer to ensure speed, range and delivery. The supersonic cruise missiles, which will be integrated shortly with our fighter jets, are performing well and fighter aircraft feel light and easy.”