Photo Credit: Military Today

On 17th December 2019, on the day that India conducted test launches of a 450km range surface to surface and a 290km range air to surface variants of the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile, Delfin Lorenzana confirmed that the Philippines was keen on procuring at least two batteries of the system for the Philippine Army which recently activated a Land-Based Missile System Battery. Lorenzana hopes to conclude the deal through a government to government agreement in either the first or second quarters of 2020.

The Brahmos is already in widespread service with the Indian navy. It serves as the primary anti-ship and land-attack armament of no fewer than sixteen serving and/or planned Indian navy ships of the Rajput, Kolkata, Talwar, Shivalik and Vishakapatnam classes. The number of missiles carried ranges from eight on some of the Rajput class vessels to sixteen aboard the Kolkata and Vishakapatanam classes and give the navy excellent anti-ship capability. A submarine launched variant is being considered and a demonstration of under-water launch capability has been achieved through a pontoon-launched test but as yet no Indian submarine operates the missile.

The Indian army currently deploys three regiments – 861 Regiment (BrahMos Block I, deployed in north Rajasthan area), 862 Regiment (BrahMos Block II, deployed in south Rajasthan area) and 863 Regiment (BrahMos Block II) – each regiment having 72 missiles. One regiment of the improved Block III missiles – 864 Regiment has been ordered for the Arunachal Pradesh area with further orders anticipated. In Indian army service, the Brahmos is used in the precision-strike land-attack mode and has demonstrated the ability to engage targets in difficult terrain and with range and software enhancements in the Block III version gives unmatched efficacy.

The Indian Air Force experienced some difficulties in integrating the large and somewhat heavy Brahmos missile onto the Su-30MKI. The air-launched Brahmos-A has been reduced in weight to 2500kg and is intended to free-fall for 150m before being taken to an altitude of 14000m while it completes the terminal stage of its flight at an altitude of only 15 metres. This will confer an unparalled stand-off strike capability to the Indian Air Force and would allow the missile to be launched outside of the engagement envelope of almost all of the subcontinent’s air defence weaponry thus increasing the chances of a successful penetration of hostile airspace.

Initially attempts at allowing the Su-30MKI to carry three Brahmos missiles have now been scaled back to allow one such missile on a centreline pylon. The integration process was expensive and involved reducing the size of the ramjet powering the missile. It was only in 2016 that carriage and drop trials began but these have so far been without incident. In 2017, the first guided launch took place with the missile being fired by a Su-30MKI against a naval target. This was followed the tests on 17 December 2019.

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