India certifies BRAHMOS-A ALCM Air-Launched Cruise Missile for Su-30MKI fighter

India’s defense authorities have certified the newest BRAHMOS-A (‘A’ for Air-launched) air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) for the country’s Sukhoi Su-30MKI (NATO reporting name: Flanker-H) multirole combat aircraft, according to the news agency OnManorama.

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India certifies BRAHMOS A ALCM Air Launched Cruise Missile for Su 30MKI fighter 925 001 An Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jet test -launches BrahMos-A, the air-launched cruise missile version of BrahMos. (Picture source IAF)

“The BRAHMOS ALCM has received the first ever fleet release clearance (FRC) issued by a certifying agency. The supersonic and advanced missile has become the first indigenous weapon with a FRC certificate,” said the OnManorama in a report on June 16. According to the news agency, the new weapon “will give its proven capabilities to the Indian Air Force [IAF]”.

The BRAHMOS-A missile is reported to have received its FRC on June 10 during a high-level meeting of the program’s stakeholders. “The meeting was attended by the representatives of the Defence Research and Development Organisation [DRDO], BrahMos Aerospace [the developer of the BRAHMOS-family cruise missiles — TASS], Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment [ASTE], Software Development Institute [SDI], headquarters of the IAF, and the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification [CEMILAC],” said the OnManorama, adding that the BRAHMOS-A’s FRC certificate had been issued by CEMILAC.

According to some unnamed Indian officials, the aforementioned certificate will allow the IAF to arm its Su-30MKIs with the BRAHMOS-A ALCMs, once the required tests and certifications of the new weapon have been fully completed.

A spokesperson for the Reutov-based NPO Mashinostroyeniya (a subsidiary of the Tactical Missiles Corporation (KTRV); the enterprise is a co-founder of the BrahMos Aerospace company) confirmed to TASS the above-mentioned piece of information.

India certifies BRAHMOS A ALCM Air Launched Cruise Missile for Su 30MKI fighter 925 002
Operated by 2sqn, Indian Air Force, and based at Kalaikunda. Seen landing at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, UK, during Operation Indradhanush IV. (Picture source Wikipedia Alan Wilson)

On December 17, 2019, BrahMos Aerospace conducted a successful life-fire test of the BRAHMOS-A ALCM from an IAF Su-30MKI. “The launch was smooth and the missile followed the desired trajectory, hitting a surface target off Odisha coastline…The Indian Navy supported the launch,” India’s Press Information Bureau (PIB) reported on December 18, 2019.

On January 20, the IAF activated its first fighter squadron armed with the modified Su-30MKI multirole combat aircraft capable of firing the BRAHMOS-A. The 222th Squadron ‘Tigersharks’ was inducted at Thanjavur Air Force Station within the IAF Southern Air Command. The unit is reported to have received 18 updated Su-30MKI.

India’s aerospace conglomerate Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is planning to upgrade some 40 Su-30MKIs (or two to three squadrons) for the new air-launched weapon.

According to the IAF, the baseline twin-seat twin-engine Su-30MKI produces a speed of 2,500 km/h (Mach 2.35) and carries an 8,000 kg payload on external hardpoints. The platform’s armament suite incorporates a 30 mm Gryasev-Shipunov automatic gun and several short-/medium-range air-to-air missiles with radar or infrared seekers.

India is also planning to develop a smaller variant of the BRAHMOS-A, which is designated BRAHMOS-NG (‘NG’ for New Generation). This ALCM appears to be intended for both Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 (Fulcrum) and Su-30MKI air platform of the IAF.

The BRAHMOS-A missile is reported to have a weight of some 2.50 t and a firing range of approximately 299 km. A Flanker-H can carry a BRAHMOS-A on a central under-fuselage hardpoint.

The IAF names the BRAHMOS-A ALCM a game-changer in its inventory.