New Delhi: The Indian Army is planning to induct the supersonic BrahMos land attack cruise missile (LACM) months ahead of schedule, on the back of four successful test firings. The induction may also lead to the Army setting up a separate missile division, with the BrahMos now becoming the fourth missile type to enter its inventory.
According to defence sources, the induction will very likely occur by the middle of the year.
The Army feels the need for a separate missile division, as the LACM BrahMos becomes the fourth type of missile to enter its inventory. It is already equipped with the short-range Prithvi (150-250 km), medium range Agni I (700 km), and intermediate range Agni II (2,000 km) missiles.
According to defence sources, the Army's first sub-group, armed with 12 BrahMos missiles, is already operational. Fitted on four mobile launchers, the missiles will allow the Army to engage 12 different targets simultaneously in a time span of 30 seconds.
According to Brahmos chief executive, Dr A Sivathanu Pillai, four tests of the LACM BrahMos - two in Pokhran and two at the interim test range at Chandipur - have seen the validation of all technical parameters. "It is ready for induction and upgrades can be carried out even after it becomes operational with the Army," he said.
According to sources, the last two tests at Chandipur saw army personnel firing the missile from their own complex, independent of DRDO scientists. They also said that the missile could be made ready for launch within two minutes unlike the short-range surface-to-surface Prithvi missile, which requires a preparation time of 20-minutes.
According to DRDO sources, the BrahMos LACM has demonstrated zero circular error probability during tests, making it a weapon of almost pinpoint precision. The land attack version of the 290km range BrahMos uses thermal sensors, and according to Dr Pillai, has no equivalent in the world.
According to DRDO officials, efforts are now on to develop a hypersonic version by inducting scramjet technology into the missile. This would take increase its speed to almost Mach eight, or eight times the speed of sound.
Early induction of the BrahMos comes even as reports in the media talk about Pakistan making ready to deploy its Shaheen II missiles, which reportedly can target any part of India.