The country's military scientists on Saturday morning test-flew the heavy BrahMos supersonic cruise missile for the first time using a modified Air Force Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter as the air platform.
The missile, said to be the heaviest such, had its milestone flight for 45 minutes at the HAL Airport at Nashik, said a statement from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, which manufactures the Su-30s.
It was not a real warhead but was of the same weight, shape and size.
40 aircrafts to be modified
With the successful integration of BrahMos, Su-30 MKI aircraft has become a lethal weapon delivery platform for the Air Force. Around 40 of these aircraft are expected to be modified, said HAL.
History has been made with the 2,500-kg missile, said Sudhir Kumar Mishra, CEO & MD, BrahMos Aerospace Pvt Ltd, the company that has designed the missile. He said it was for the first time in the world that such a heavyweight missile was integrated on a fighter aircraft.
T. Suvarna Raju, HAL's CMD, who was among those who witnessed the flight, told The Hindu that they plan to fly and drop a real missile around October or November, after completing 15-20 flights to evaluate the performance of the fighter.
Calling HAL 's modification of two Sukhoi plane "an engineering marvel," Mr. Raju said the Nashik Division generated the required data without the help of the original Russian manufacturer.
Mr. Mishra was quoted as saying, “The world did not believe us that we could do it. We could achieve it today thanks to the vision of the late A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.”
Wg. Cdr. Prashant Nair and Wg. Cdr. M.S. Raju, flight test crew of Bengaluru-based Aircraft & Systems Testing Establishment, demonstrated the flight.
HAL and BAPL in 2014 signed a contract to modify two Su-30 MKI aircraft for integrating with the missile.