LiveFist EXCLUSIVE: BrahMos on Su-30MKI Not Happening for Now

The photograph you see to the right is one that is printed with BrahMos advertisements in magazines and has been one of the most visible images from the company in the last two years. A single underslung BrahMos on the belly pylon of Su-30MKI. Well, this is, for now, only image, because you aren't going to see it any time soon.

Sources at BrahMos have revealed to LiveFist Integration of the BrahMos on the Su-30MKI platform is out of the question for the moment. Instead, the Navy’s Ilyushin-38 MPA/ASW aircraft will be the first platform for the air-launched version of the missile. Structural modifications to a Sukhoi-30MKI are currently being conducted by HAL with Russian help but, according to inside sources, everything is still very preliminary. A first test won’t happen before 2010-11, despite affirmations of a first test flight in late 2007, early 2008. In terms of configuration, the air-launched BrahMos integrated with the Il-38 will be identical to the land/sea-launched versions.

The Ilyushin-38 has been selected by BrahMos as the first integration platform because the missile be integrated to the aircraft without any changes, but just minus the solid booster. No structural modifications on the BrahMos are necessary for this particular integration. A test launch from an Il-38 is apparently possible quite soon, though it definitely won’t be this year, say BrahMos sources.

The Sukhoi-30 integration is out of the question for the near-term since such launch warrants extensive structural modifications to the BrahMos missile. A feasibility study has shown that the BrahMos would require reduction in diameter as well as length, implying that the missile will have to return to the drawing board if it wants to be carried by a Flanker.

Here’s what I was told: If BrahMos Corporation proceeds with reducing the bore diameter of the missile platform, it will start to influence not only the aerodynamic stability, but also the air flow through the pipe (air flow in a ramjet needs to be strictly regulated in order to sustain flame because in a ramjet, the airflow takes place in a transonic which is synonymous with turbulence where sustaining flame is a huge issue). Therefore, addressing aerodynamic stability and flame sustenance together is a huge task for BrahMos currently in this particular integration. It literally means having to go back to the laboratory and reworking the whole thing, all over again. Of course, this is going to take more than just a few months.

Another little nugget from BrahMos. The BrahMos Mark-2 is currently under development. DRDO and NPO-Mash (JV partners in BrahMos) are working on a sustained flight scramjet, which will be the core element in the Mark-2 version of BrahMos.

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