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Work on BRAHMOS supersonic missile over, trials to wait

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An artistic representation of BRAHMOS air and submarine launch version. A file photo.

MOSCOW (PTI): BrahMos Aerospace, an Indo-Russian joint venture, has completed the work on aerial and underwater versions of a supersonic cruise missile, but the test-fire of the two variants is held up for the time being in the absence of platforms for trials.

The test-fire of underwater version of the missile will take place early next year while the trial of air-borne variant is likely to be held in 2012, BrahMos Aerospace said.

Alexander Leonov, Director General of NPO Mashinostroyenia which is the Russian partner of the joint venture, said work on both aerial and submarine versions of the missile has been completed and they are ready for trial.

He said BrahMos scientists are now waiting for the Su-30MKI aircraft to be provided by Indian Air Force to act as a platform for testing the aerial version while a specially designed submerged vehicle will be used for trial of the submarine version.

In the absence of a specially designed submarine to conduct the test, a submerged platform will be used for carrying out the trial of underwater version of the missile.

Marketing Director of BrahMos Praveen Pathak said IAF has already identified two Sukhoi 30 fighter aircraft for testing the aerial version, which is set to take place in 2012. He said induction of the missile into the IAF is likely to begin in 2013.

"As per our estimate, we will be able to complete all the development trials of airbrone version by the end of 2012 and induction should start by 2013," Pathak told PTI.

Leonov said Indian Navy only wants to integrate the missile on Indian manufactured submarines, which is why test has to be carried out from a specially designed submerged vehicle.

"As far as I know the submarines where the missiles are likely to be integrated will be manufactured in India. The missile is ready for installations," he said.

The 290-km range missile, which can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kg, is already in service with the Navy as its Shivalik class frigates have been equipped with it.

BrahMos has also been inducted into the Army. The missile can fly at 2.8 times the speed of sound.

One regiment of the BrahMos I variant, consists of 67 missiles, five mobile autonomous launchers on 12x12 'Tatra' vehicles and two mobile command posts, among other equipment, is already operational in the Army.

India and Russia have so far invested 300 million dollars in BrahMos Aerospace, which was established to design, develop, produce and market the missile by using the technological skills and capabilities of both countries.

Pathak said several countries have shown interest in buying the missile and negotiations are currently underway with them.

"We have got applications from various countries.

Negotiations are currently going on with them," he said.

Lenov said BrahMos Aerospace is also planning to develop a hypersonic version of the missile to be called BrahMos-II which may have speed in the range of 5 to 7 Mach to make it the fastest cruise missile in the world.

"The combination of (India's) requirement and achievable level of speed will determine the future configuration," he said.

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