India has uprated its BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles by installing the advanced satellite navigation systems from Russia's Kh-555 and Kh-101 strategic long-range cruise missiles, adding GPS-GLONASS technology to the existing doppler-inertial platform, Izvestia reported on Tuesday quoting sources in the military-industrial complex.
The integration of the navigation systems from Kh-555 will turn BrahMos, a supersonic cruise missile, into a "super-rocket" with almost a sub-strategic capability above its normal tactical range, capable of hitting targets over 180-300 miles (300-500 km), from sea, land and air launchers, and capable of being armed with a nuclear warhead, the source said.
The installation of the advanced navigation system is optimised for the new air-launched version of BrahMos, which will be carried by India's Russian-built Sukhoi Su-30MKI strike fighters. India plans to deploy over 200 of the advanced aircraft by 2020.
Analysts say the addition of satellite-based navigation systems will improve the weapon's accuracy.
“Conventional Doppler INS has an inherent drift, so the longer the range of the weapon, the larger the relative error," said Douglas Barrie, air warfare analyst at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. "Introducing satellite navigation improves the missile’s positional accuracy. From an investment stand-point it also makes sense to re-use sub-systems that have already been developed.”
Former Royal Navy Weapons Engineering officer Hugh Price agreed. "Satellite navigation means the missile will now be accurate to within a few meters," he said.
The combination of air-launched BrahMos with the Su-30 will give India a long-range strike capability similar to Russia's Tu-95MS and Tu-160 strategic bombers, said aviation analyst and editor of Vzlet magazine Vladimir Sherbakov.
"This missile is an important element in the military power of the Indian armed forces and our Indian partners have placed a lot of faith in it," he said.
India's main potential adversary, Pakistan, does not have modern air defenses capable of engaging targets outside BrahMos range, a source in Russia's High Command told the paper.
The Indian Navy carried out a successful test-firing of the sea-launched variant of the weapon on October 7 from the frigate INS Teg off the coast of Goa, the New Indian Express reported.
BrahMos can reach a speed of Mach 2.8 at levels as low as 30 feet (10 m) or fly high-profile diving attacks. The missile was jointly developed by Russia and India, based on the NPO Mashinostroyenie 3M55 Onyx (NATO SS-N-26).