India and Russia will sign an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) to ensure that the Brahmos hypersonic cruise missile programme can move fast. It was decided at the 12th meeting of the India-Russia Inter-governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) in New Delhi that Russia would cooperate in the programme formally by signing an IGA, after which the flow of funds, technology and other work-share will be streamlined. As of now, both sides, DRDO-BrahMos of India and NPO-Mash of Russia, are working independently on the design of this highly advanced missile. Defence Minister A.K. Antony and his counterpart A.E. Serdyukov met for an annual meeting this week.
The missile is expected to have its first test in 2017, a decade after its first laboratory test in 2007. The Russian Defence Minister has also said on the BrahMos missile joint venture, that both nations were working on the “new generation” missiles that have already been inducted in the Indian Army and Navy, and that the Russians were looking at 1,000 pieces of the missile.
BrahMos Aerospace Centre had made a demonstrator vehicle, last year, to conduct an actual flight of the hypersonic missile, which has a speed between seven and eight mach. A successful test of the technology of the missile has been carried out in a laboratory, at a speed of 6.5 mach.
The hypersonic cruise missile, a more advanced version of the BrahMos, would be ready for its first actual flight in 2017.
DRDO and NPO-Mash are working on a sustained flight scramjet, which will be the core element in the hypersonic version. The mach 8 version of the missile, named as Brahmos-2, will be the first hypersonic cruise missile and is part of the India-Russia 10-year programme on military-technical cooperation, which currently comprises about 13 research-development and production projects.
The around 8 metres long missile system with a scramjet propulsion will have a range of less than 300 km. Scramjet propulsion implies that the combustion of the solid fuel booster will be supersonic to attain a hypersonic speed. A supersonic speed is between one and four mach, while sonic speed is one mach. Subsonic speed is less than one mach. The speed of sound is one mach, which is 330 metres per second. So far, BrahMos has only had ramjet propulsion, which is subsonic combustion to achieve a supersonic speed.
The high supersonic cruise missile can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land. The propulsion of the missile is based on the Russian Yakhont missile, and guidance has been developed by Brahmos Corp. At the above speeds, which is about three times faster than the American subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile. The missile has three propulsion systems. A gas generator, a solid fuel booster to speed it up to Mach 2, and then an air-breathing liquid fuel ramjet which takes over to propel it to its target.
India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation and Russia’s Federal State Unitary Enterprise NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM) are the joint venture partners of the company.