To enable India’s fighter planes to carry out Balakot-like airstrikes using made in India weapons, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is planning to test fire the air-launched version of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, India Today has reported.
A Sukhoi Su-30 MKI, modified by HAL to hold the weapon, will be used as a platform to launch the missiles, IAF sources were cited in the report as saying. IAF wants to have 40 Su-30s compatible with BrahMos missiles to carry out long-range standoff strikes against the enemy targets.
The air-launched version of BrahMos is lighter than its other variants. Due to the strike range and lethality, the missile, once integrated, will be a game changer for the combat capability of the IAF.
"It is a very important project considering IAF's evolving requirement to boost air power when the possibility of a two-front war cannot be ruled out," an Indian government official said. The retrofitting of the aircraft is expected to be completed by 2020.
As of now, only two Su-30 MKI fighters of IAF have been modified to fire the new 2.5-ton supersonic air-to-surface cruise missile. Due to the size and weight of the BrahMos-A, each Su-30 MKI can only carry one missile in a transport launch canister.
The IAF test-fired a BrahMos-A from a Su-30 MKI in November successfully destroying a naval target. The IAF has conducted several tests of the BrahMos-A in 2016 and 2017.
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