Su 30MKI is India’s most trustworthy fighter. It is the most capable airwarrior in Indian Air Force inventory. Also, it is considered as most advanced Su-30MK(export) variant in both quantity and quality aspects.
BrahMos is seriously a state-of-the-art weapon. Having a capability to hit the target with 99.98% precision. It is jointly developed by Russia and India but it is exclusive to Indian Armed Forces due to oriented customizations to operate in Indian conditions. The name also signfies the contributors. “Brah” stands for Brahmaputra river of India and “Mos” stands for the Moskva river of Russia.
There are some wide misconceptions that Russia don’t like BrahMos that’s why they are not using the missilw. That’s not true. Actually, Russia operate its own BrahMos (a variant of BrahMos) known as P-800 “Oniks” that is a dedicated anti-ship cruise missile. BrahMos is actually inspired from this missile. The main reason not to use BrahMos is that it is widely customized for Indian use.
Now, How would BrahMos help to enhance capabilities of Su-30 MKI?
BrahMos started off with a 290 km range as Russia was bound by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which was created by the West in order to curb the spread of unmanned delivery systems that could carry a payload of 500 kg for a distance of 300 km.
India is now a part of MTCR. a 800 km range missile having the ability to hit hardened targets with pinpoint accuracy is a reality. India conducted the maiden test firing of the extended-range variant on March 11, 2017. This missile will allow Indian warships to strike enemy targets from greater standoff distances.
Flashback to October 2015 when Russian Navy missile boats anchored in the Caspian Sea blasted Islamic State positions 1500 km away. Similarly, BrahMos missiles fired from missile boats safe in the Gulf of Kutch or the Indian port of Porbandar can comfortably reach the Pakistani cities of Karachi and Hyderabad.
Brahmos Extended Range Missile on SU-30 MKI
A Su 30 Mki with a ferry range 1500 km and added with 800 km range of Brahmos gets a theoretical range of 2300 km.That range easily covers not only entire Pakistan but even deep inside China. Even the acquisition of S400 by China will not make much of a difference. The very short reaction time available due to the extreme speed of Brahmos as well as the ability to manoeuvre the terrain of the Himalayas by the Sukhoi’s will not give even the S400 any reaction time.
Now if we consider the Andaman and Nicobar islands, considered India’s unsinkable aircraft carrier, the area of influence covers a large part of area in the South East Asian region. If the Lakshadweep islands are similarly developed, the range covers most of the Middle East and even parts of Africa.
The Chinese-Pakistani ports in Gwadar and even Djibouti are not safe.
Thus making full use of India’s geographical assets the Sukhoi – Brahmos combo can exert an influence over a large part of the entire Asian land mass.
Capability to carry nuclear warhead
Only Mirage 2000 and Jaguars of Indian Air Force are medium to carry out nuclear strikes via an aerial platform. Su-30MKI is not capable to carry thermonuclear or nuclear warheads. But, once Brahmos is integrated that owns the capability to carry 300kg nuclear warhead, Su-30MKI will be a fierce platform for the enemies.
However, the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) will operate the Brahmos carrying Su-30MKIs, but not the Indian Air Force. The aircraft planned to be procured are part of efforts to strengthen the nuclear delivery system which is right now based on only land-based ballistic missiles such as the Agni and Prithvi. Mirage 2000 and Jaguar as well as Su 30MKI will further strengthen the capability of Strategic Nuclear Command of India.
But, India follow “no first use” policy for nukes ensuring that nuclear weapons are only going to be used for retaliation.
At this time, only 2 Su-30 are capable to carry BrahMos-A and they are used for trials of the weapon. By 2020–21, total 42 Su-30MKIs will be modified in order to reinforce the aircraft’s undercarriage in addition to various mechanical, electrical and software upgrades. Due to the size and weight of the BrahMos-A, each Su-30 MKI can only carry one missile in a transport launch canister.
To undertake the weight problem, a lighter version is also under development for Tejas and Mirage 2000 aircrafts that also enable these aircrafts to carry out cruise missile strikes. Also, 2 BrahMos-NG are expected to be installed on underwing pylons of the aircraft.
The first ever test-fire of BrahMos-A was carried out by a Su-30 MKI on November 2017, successfully destroying a naval target. Latest test also undertaken in May this year (2019). Indian authorities are giving high priority to fast-track the process to acquire BrahMos-A to strengthen the strike capability of Indian Armed Forces.
BrahMos NG ::
This is BrahMos Lite. At just 1.4 tons, and with a proportionately lower range of around 120 km, the NG version will be light enough to be carried by the indigenously built Tejas aircraft. The missile is still on the drawing board and the company is talking to various users. According to Sudhir Kumar Mishra, CEO and MD of BrahMos Aerospace, “The idea is to mass produce the missile so that we can integrate it on a variety of platforms. It is a new business initiative and we see a huge market for it in India and abroad,” he said.
Although the Indian Air Force (IAF) may not relish the idea of arming the Sukhois with such a short range missile (which could bring the Su-30 within range of anti-aircraft defences), the NG version could suit deep penetration strike aircraft such as the Jaguar and MiG-27 providing air cover to an Indian armoured thrust. Alternatively, these missiles could be forward deployed, offering field commanders a weapon they can use to take out the enemy’s battlefield command and communication centres or armour concentrations.
Aviation Week suggests the re-sized missile will be capable of withstanding aircraft carrier deck landings. Carrier-based MiG-29s could carry up to three of these pocket rockets.
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