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Sukhois to be tipped with BrahMos ahead of deadline

More teeth: The missile is expected to extend the strategic reach of the combat aircraft.

More teeth: The missile is expected to extend the strategic reach of the combat aircraft.  

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Balakot strikes and Pak. retaliation have spurred the move

Weeks after the Balakot air strikes, the government decided to fast-track arming over 40 Sukhoi fighter jets with the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, a closely guarded strategic project aimed at bolstering the combat capability of the Indian Air Force, official sources said on Sunday.

They said Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. and BrahMos Aerospace Ltd. were told to complete the work much before the December 2020 deadline. In 2016, the government decided to fit the air-launched variant of BrahMos in over 40 Sukhoi fighter jets. The work started by 2017-end, but it has been progressing slowly, the sources said.

A review on ways to strengthen the Air Force against the backdrop of the Balakot air strikes and Pakistani retaliation concluded that the early integration of BrahMos with the Sukhois should be a priority, they said.

It was felt that the planned induction of Rafale aircraft equipped with the Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile, procurement of the S-400 air defence missile system and integration of BrahMos with the Sukhois will provide India a significant advantage over the Pakistani Air Force.

One view in the IAF is that had it possessed high levels of “technological asymmetry”, Pakistan could have been dealt a heavy blow during its aerial raid on February 27 .

The government is undertaking several measures to strengthen the Air Force’s combat prowess, the sources said, adding that the HAL had been specifically told to put additional manpower and resources to fast-track the BrahMos project.

Once the weapon is integrated with the combat fleet, the IAF’s capability to strike from large stand-off ranges on any target in sea or land is expected to go up manifold. The missile, coupled with the superlative performance of the Sukhoi aircraft, will give the IAF a strategic reach and allow it to dominate the ocean and land battlefields, says an IAF assessment.

The air-launched variant of the Brahmos was successfully test-fired from a Sukhoi-30 combat jet on November 22, 2017, marking a major milestone to enhance the precision strike capability of the air force.

A fleet of 40 Sukhoi jets is undergoing structural modifications at the state-run aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for integration of the missile on them.

The 2.5-tonne missile flies almost three times the speed of sound at Mach 2.8 and has a range of 290 km.

The range of the missile, an Indo-Russia joint venture, can be extended up to 400 km as certain technical restrictions were lifted after India became a full member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) last year.

Brahmos missile is the heaviest weapon to be deployed on India’s Su-30 fighter aircraft.

The integration of the missile on Sukhoi aircraft is a very complex process involving mechanical, electrical and software modifications of the Su-30 jet, officials said.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 12:46:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sukhois-to-be-tipped-with-brahmos-ahead-of-deadline/article27705879.ece

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