India’s defence indigenisation efforts achieved a major fillip last week when the powerful BrahMos supersonic cruise missile system with an indigenous seeker was successfully flight-tested from the Pokhran test range in Rajasthan. The missile was fired from a Mobile Autonomous Launcher (MAL) deployed in full configuration and hit the designated target meeting all mission parameters. All telemetry and tracking stations including naval ships near the terminal point have tracked the trajectory. The nine-meter-long missile can travel at thrice the speed of sound and carry a conventional warhead weighing upto 300 kg. This successful test-firing of the weapon fitted with an indigenously developed seeker has enthused a fresh impetus in the ambitious “Make in India” programme initiated by the government in 2014. This is the first time India has successfully developed the seeker technology for a missile of this class and calibre.
Senior scientists from Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Defence Research & Development Laboratory in particular, and BrahMos Aerospace had been diligently working on the design and development of the indigenous seeker for quite some time under the leadership of BrahMos director general Sudhir Mishra. This programme was being supported and monitored at the highest level of the Indian defence establishment. Seeker is considered as the brain of the missile and is the main element used in the terminal phase of the trajectory to search, acquire, lock-on and home in on the designated target. The terminal phase which is the most crucial phase is guided by the seeker to achieve the desired accuracy.
Till date, the seeker was being supplied by Russia for BrahMos programme but with this launch followed by a few more trials, the prospect of using an Indian seeker has become a reality. With the recent successful flight test, the Indian scientific community has achieved a major breakthrough in indigenous designing and developing the seeker technology which is a critical component in a missile system. Today, BrahMos has established itself as a world-class tactical weapon having no parallels in the world and as a world-class precision strike weapon; it has emboldened and sharpened the modern war fighting capability of the Indian Armed Forces. BrahMos Aerospace, the designer, developer and producer of the universal BRAHMOS weapon system, has established a robust Missile Industrial Consortium (MIC) which has grown manifold over the years, and is contributing to the government’s ambitious “Make-In-India” drive in the most desirable and meaningful manner.
After India became a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in June, 2016, plans are afoot to extend the range of the BrahMos upto 450 kms; and work is also on version II of the Indo-Russian joint venture BrahMos and the range will be extended upto 800-850 kms, according to officials. BrahMos missile flies almost three times the speed of sound at Mach 2.8 and has a range of 290 km and has been jointly developed with Russia and is named after the rivers Brahmaputra and Moskva in Russia. The BrahMos has been inducted into the Navy and Army from 2006 onwards but the latest version is more versatile. Unlike warships, a BrahMos armed Sukhoi-30 can fly 1,500 kilometres in the direction of a hostile target out at sea.