India will undertake multiple operational firings of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile this week, in yet another hard-nosed display of its precision-strike capabilities amidst the ongoing military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh.
The “live missile tests” of the 290-km range BrahMos, which is a deadly conventional (non-nuclear) weapon that flies almost three times the speed of sound at Mach 2.8, will be carried out by the Army, Navy and IAF in the Indian Ocean Region.
“The first test is likely to take place on Tuesday. The requisite advance warnings to aircraft and ships in the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal have been issued,” said a defence ministry source.
The tests come even as BrahMos land-attack missile batteries have already been deployed in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, along with tanks, howitzers, surface-to-air missiles and other weapons, as part of the overall military readiness posture against China. Similarly, some Sukhoi-30MKI fighters armed with BrahMos missiles are also deployed in airbases closer to the Line of Actual Control.
Sources say work is also underway to make the enhanced version of BrahMos with a strike range of almost 450-km, which has been successfully tested three to four times, operational as soon as possible. Moreover, India and Russia are also getting set to test a new version of BrahMos, with 800-km range, by middle of next year.
The tests this week will see the Army firing the air-breathing missile at the Trak island in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago, while naval warships test the anti-ship variant on the high seas.
The sleeker air-launched version, in turn, will be fired from a Sukhoi flying from the mainland. With a combat radius of almost 1,500-km without mid-air refueling, the Sukhois with BrahMos missiles constitute a formidable long-range weapons package.
“The Sukhoi-BrahMos combination can be used for surgical strikes against underground bunkers, command-and-control centers and other military targets deep inside enemy territory as also warships on the high seas,” said a senior officer.