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Brahmos Integration With Su-30 Provides Significant Deterrence Capability

Dr. Ashminder writes The integration of Su-30 fighter with Brahmos is a perfect example of Make in India philosophy and displays high degree of indigenous capability.

Brahmos at 2.8M is the fastest cruise missile in the world. Its two variants, land and ship launched versions, have already entered service.  The range of the cruise missile was earlier restricted to 290 km and after India became a member of MTCR, the range of the missile has been extended to 450 km. In future, it is likely to be extended to 900 km. Cabinet Committee on Security has already cleared the purchase of 200 air launched Brahmos missiles. Two Su-30 MKI fighters have been modified by HAL Nashik for integration with the missile. On 22 Nov 2017, the ALCM was successfully tested on a sea based target. The missile was gravity dropped from the fighter and after free fall, the engine of the missile lit up. The first stage accelerated it to supersonic speeds and the second stage to 2.8M. The latest test completes the tactical triad for India. The launch of ALCM has significantly bolstered IAF’s air strike capability from stand-off ranges. The fighter can now remain outside the lethal envelop of the Air Defence systems after releasing the cruise missile. With top dive attack characteristics, the missile provides significant deterrence against China and Pakistan and can be used effectively in the mountainous terrain. The ALCM integration with Su-30 provides not just additional 3200 km range, but also the ability to undertake multiple tasks in the same mission itself. After launching the ALCM, the fighter could be utilized for Air Dominance missions. If air to air refueling is provided, then the range or endurance of the fighter could be significantly enhanced, thereby providing it with significant operational flexibility. If the range of Bramhos is enhanced to 450 km, entire Pakistan is in the range of a Su-30 fighter, who could loiter at an appropriate location within India to attack a high value target located in Pakistan after its position is recognized at the pre-determined location through real time Intelligence.  Multiple air to air refueling extends the range and endurance significantly and with Pakistan lacking strategic depth; this integration could prove to be the nemesis for Pakistan to hide its strategic assets or its high value target systems during war. Another advantage of integrating Brahmos with an Air Dominance fighter is that it can attack naval ships picked up by Long Range Maritime Patrol aircraft. With air to air refueling, Su-30 armed with the ALCM can even attack aircraft carrier at sea, thereby providing significant deterrent capability against China. In peacetime, if India suffers a major terror strike, then the fighter whilst remaining within India can attack high value target systems hidden in a building or terror camps located deep in the disputed territory in retaliation. The high speed provides the missile with limited time for detection and a high degree of survivability. During war, the ALCM could attack underground nuclear bunkers, Command and Control Centres, fuel and ammunition dumps, key bridges and ships. The integration of Su-30 fighter with Brahmos is a perfect example of Make in India philosophy and displays high degree of indigenous capability.

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