India will increase the range of the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile to 450 km from the present 290 km, and a test is likely around March 10, DRDO Chief S. Christopher said on Wednesday.
The DRDO chief, however, denied any plans of increasing the range of the Agni missile, which has a range above 5,000 km. This comes after India became a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in June 2016. The MTCR is an informal and voluntary partnership of countries to prevent the proliferation of missile and unmanned aerial vehicle technology capable of carrying above 500 kg payload for more than 300 km. This prohibits member countries to give such technology to countries outside the club.
The range of the BrahMos missile, a joint venture of India and Russia, is 290 km, though it is capable of going beyond that range. Christopher said a change in the software will be needed, after which the missile will be tested for an enhanced range of 450 km.
“We will tentatively test it around March 10,” he said. Besides this, the DRDO is also developing a second version of the BrahMos missile which will have a range of 800 km. This missile, Christopher said, is likely to be developed over the next two-and-a-half years.
Asked if India will also increase the range of the Agni V missile, which can reach targets as far Beijing with a range of over 5,000 km, Christopher denied it. “We may not do it, because it can antagonise someone,” he said without naming any country.
The Indian Army has already inducted three regiments of BrahMos in its arsenal. All are equipped with Block-III version of the missile, which was tested last May. The land-attack version of BrahMos has been operationalised in the Indian Army since 2007.
The fire-and-forget BrahMos has the capability to take on surface-based targets by flying a combined hi-lo trajectory, thus evading enemy air defence systems. Inclusion of the powerful weapon system in the Indian Army has given it a distinct operational advantage to knock down any enemy target even in the most difficult and hidden terrains.
The BrahMos missile, having a range of 290 km and a Mach 2.8 speed, is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against sea and land targets. BrahMos is a joint venture between DRDO of India and NPOM of Russia.