Indian and Russian scientists are close to final development and testing of the air-launched version of the jointly developed BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, a top Russian defence official said in Moscow on Saturday.
Alexander Leonov told Itar-Tass news agency that a new takeoff engine for launching of the missile in air and at extreme high altitudes had been developed. "We are ready for test launches," said. He added that the initial test firing of the missile would be undertaken from the Sukhoi-30 MKI, but did not specify the exact dates.
After testing, the IAF would be the launch customer for the BrahMos missile, which will make the Indian Air Force the only force in Asia to have such capability.
The BrahMos has already been inducted in its ship-to-shore and land-to-land versions in the Indian Navy and Army.
Leonov disclosed for the first time that Moscow and New Delhi were also "very close" to designing and testing of the submarine launched version of the BrahMos missile.
India's indigenous nuclear powered submarine INS Arihant, which has been launched for final sea trials, could be using the Indian made K-15 nuclear missile. But experts say that its upgraded versions would have facilities to carry BrahMos cruise missiles.
Though Leonov did not directly comment, Russian sources have indicated that the Akula-II class Nerpa nuclear submarine being leased to India this December has the capability to launch underwater BrahMos missiles.