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Indian air force test fires air-launched Brahmos missile

The Indian air force test-fired the Mach 2.8 Brahmos cruise missile from an aircraft for the first time on 22 November, moving the anti-ship and land attack capability a step closer to operational use.

The test firing announced by India’s Ministry of Defence comes almost 17 months after the air force first flew with Brahmos on board the Sukhoi Su-30MKI in a captive carry test.

India’s military has already fielded the Brahmos – the product of an Indian-Russian joint venture – in ship-launch and surface-to-surface modes, but the missile required several modifications for the air-launched version.

The Indian air force completed software modifications to the Su-30MKI and Hindustan Aeronautics made the required electrical and mechanical changes to the aircraft.

The most difficult modification was optimising the transfer alignment of the inertial sensors, the MOD says. That refers to the tricky process of calibrating the missile’s inertial sensors using data from the aircraft’s guidance systems.

After completing the test firing in the Bay of Bengal, the Indian military claims the Brahmos is now the fastest anti-ship missile ever launched from the air.

“The capability of the missile coupled with the superlative performance of the Su-30 aircraft gives the IAF a strategic reach and allows it to dominate the ocean and the battle fields,” the MOD says.

The 2.5t missile is capable of striking any surface or land target from a standoff range of more than 400km and in any weather, India’s MOD says. The all-weather capability implies a radar seeker for terminal guidance.

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