The BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited, the joint venture between India's Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Russia's Federal State Unitary Enterprise NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM), is expecting the live flight test of BrahMos supersonic missile attached on Sukhoi flights by the end of 2014, said A Sivathanupillai, founder, CEO and Managing Director of the JV company.
Speaking to reporters in the sidelines of Kurukshetra 2014, an international techno-management fest organised by College of Engineering, Guindy in Anna University, he said, "We are in a stage now to do the integrated test, which will take some time. We are planning the live flight test from the Sukhoi by the end of the year 2014."
Integrating the supersonic missile with Sukhoi requires about $50 million. Engine modifications and so many works are given to the Russians. As per the agreement, out of the $50 million investment, $25 million is funded by the Russian partner. The total investment into the JV is around $300 million while the business, which is the production based on order,is $6 billion, he said.
The company had to reduce the weight of the missile and make some changes to use it in Sukhoi. The changes had to be made since unlike launching from the land, it is launch from a moving platform.
"We needed certain modifications. All modifications have been done and missile is ready for flight test. But we need to modify the Sukhoi itself – structurally, to hold this heavy missile. That has been completed and the design has been validated through various tests," he added.
The missile, launcher and modifications are ready and a wind-tunnel test was successfully conducted at National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL) to see whether the seperation from the flight is smooth and clean. The modifications were done by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). It may be noted that the company has received around Rs 25,000 crore worth of orders from the Army and Indian Navy.
"Launching from the air is a big capability, because it is a moving platform. Today there is no such weapon available in the world. It becomes very important weapon for our forces," he said. "Indian Army is the only land force in the whole world, to have a supersonic cruise missile for land attack. Similarly Indian Air Force will be the only Air Force to have an air launched supersonic cruise missile which can target land and sea," he added.
He added that it is a mandate that the company have to export at the right time and the time to start exports depends upon the strategy decision of the government. Currently the country's interest is to equip the Indian armed force.
"Initially we didn’t understand the high potential of the system. Today all countries want this missile. We have become first in the world. First we should use it for our own people," he said. While it is currently producing based on orders, it can increase the production. Around 205 industrial units are working with the company and investing into manufacturing components.
Elaborating on the plans to develop hypersonic version of the missile, BrahMos II, he said that BrahMos would require a very big technology named Scramjet, and it is expecting that it would take five years to develop the technology.
The propulsion system Scramjet is a Supersonic Combustion Ramjet, in which the oxygen for the engine to combust would be taken from the air passing through the vehicle, instead of from a tank onboard.
According to US space research agency NASA, researchers predict scramjet speeds could reach 15 times the speed of sound, which makes an 18-hour trip to Tokyo from New York City reduced to a 2-hour flight. BrahMos has to bring in new materials for the hypersonic version, because the temperature is very high.