Production of BrahMos, the supersonic cruise missile developed by India and Russia, has begun in the country and the Indian Navy has placed orders for it, according to A. Sivathanu Pillai, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, BrahMos Aerospace, New Delhi.
He said the Navy had identified its vessels in which the BrahMos missiles would be fitted. About 20 industries in India and 10 from Russia were taking part in the production of various components for the missile (which would be assembled in India). A consortium between the two countries has been established to produce the missile system, he said. The production included fabrication of launchers, fire-control systems, accurate guidance systems and mobile platform called TATRA from which the missile could be launched.
Many countries were interested in buying the missile. To whom to sell was under the consideration of the Government of India and the Russian Federation. Since BrahMos was the only supersonic cruise missile available in the world it had a strong market, he said.
Dr. Pillai, who spoke on ``Advances in missile technologies'' at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota during the annual convention of the Aeronautical Society of India, later told reporters that development of the Air Force version of the BrahMos had started.
``The design has been finalised. We should start developing some of the sub-systems. Our target is that we should launch [it] from an aircraft in two years. It will be air-to-ground,'' he said.
All the nine flights of the BrahMos from India so far were successful. These nine flights fell under three versions: the missile launched from a ship to destroy another ship; the BrahMos launched from a mobile platform on land towards a target in the sea; and the missile launched from land to destroy a target on land. The land-to-land version of the missile could pick a particular target from a group of targets and home in on it, Dr. Pillai said. This test took place at Pokhran in Rajasthan on December 21, 2004. This was an Army version.
V. Gnanagandhi, Associate Director, Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), Indian Space Research Organisation, who spoke on ``Cryogenic technology for launch vehicles'', said the LPSC had realised cryogenic engines (to power the second-generation Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) after overcoming many challenges in design, material and testing. The engines had been successfully tested 24 times so far for a cumulative duration of about 6,000 seconds. Five engines had been realised and four tested. A cryogenic engine with a higher thrust of 20 tonnes (using five tonnes of cryogenic fluids — liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen) was under development on a priority basis. The LPSC would like to initiate efforts towards building nuclear thermal rockets (NTR) using hydrogen and a solid nuclear core, Mr. Gnanagandhi said.
M. B. Verma, Director, Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Bangalore, said the Light Combat Aircraft had high agility and manoeuvrability, multi-mission capability and cockpit-compatible night vision system. It could fly in different types of weather, and during day and night. It would launch precisely-guided weapons. With only ``a shoe-string budget,'' but with meticulous planning and successful implementation, the ADA had developed cutting-edge technologies in aeronautics, he said.