First Underwater Launch Imminent, BrahMos Holds Talks With P-75(I) Contenders

Caught up with BrahMos CEO Dr A Sivathanu Pillai this afternoon on Day 2 of DefExpo. Things are moving rapidly towards the missile's first underwater platform launch that is planned within the next three-four months. Minor modifications to the land version's low-thrust booster are complete for the cannisterised sub-surface launch, and the test will be conducted off the coast of Orissa possibly sometime in May or June this year.

At DefExpo today, in a closed meeting room behind the glitzy BrahMos pavillion, Dr Pillai and his partners from Russia's NPO Mashinostroeyenia met representatives of Russia's Rubin Design Bureau, designers of the Amur-class submarine, one of the possible contenders for the Indian Navy's Project 75 (India) licensed submarine building competition. Dr Pillai said detailed discussions were held on BrahMos as standard fit for the design that is finally offered to the Indian Navy. A similar meeting is scheduled for tomorrow when BrahMos engineers will meet counterparts from German submarine maker HDW, for discussions on its Class-214 boat, also potentially in contention for the six-boat licensed manufacturing deal with the Indian Navy. BrahMos' earlier desire to integrate the supersonic cruise missile with the fifth and sixth Scorpene boats to be manufactured at the Mazagon shipyard fell through after the Navy said it planned to integrate air-independent propulsion to the last two boats, thereby already increasing the length of the submarine considerably.

On the air-launched BrahMos, Dr Pillai said that launcher fabrication was underway at BrahMos' Trivandrum facility, and missile ground tests were currently underway, which include structural tests of the different cap-dome. Coming up soon are pyro-system reliability tests, which could take a huge test routine, with the test of an inert missile in one year. Following that will be the test of a technology missile -- fully loaded with all avionics and electronics, for drop-tests, pilot level operations tests etc, scheduled for 2011. The actual missile will be fired in full ops configuration in early 2012 if all goes well. The IAF has already committed two HAL Nashik-built Su-30MKIs for integration test between the middle of this year and 2012.

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