India is gearing up for its own hypersonic ballistic missile : BrahMos-2

BrahMos-2 : In March this year, Russia announced it had fired a hypersonic ballistic missile, the Kinzhal, to destroy a huge underground arms depot in western Ukraine. In India, military planners have been keenly awaiting the dawn of the country’s own hypersonic missile. Missile scientists associated with the Indo-Russian joint venture BrahMos are working on the hypersonic missile technology, which only Russia and China possess. Even the US is still developing the technology.

A hypersonic missile travels at the speed of at least Mach 5. Unlike a ballistic missile, which follows a defined trajectory, it is highly maneuverable. In India, the BrahMos-2 will be the hypersonic version of the missile and will probably have a range of 1,500 km. Trials have put its speed at almost Mach 8, making it the fastest in the world. “BrahMos-2 is a hypersonic version of the missile. It is likely to enter the prototype stage in the next three years,” said a top defence ministry official, adding that a series of tests of the missile were conducted at the speed of Mach 6.5.

In 2020, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) had tested the hypersonic air-breathing scramjet system for propulsion, called the Hypersonic Technology Demonstration Vehicle or HSTDV. According to a defence official, the HSTDV attained a speed of Mach 6 for 23 seconds during the testing.

“India has joined a select group of countries, including the United States, Russia, and China, that have indigenously developed technology capable of making the HSTDV take an unpredictable trajectory and elude interceptor detection,” a defence official said, adding that the test-firing might be related to the BrahMos-2 hypersonic missile, which is expected to be modelled on Russia’s Zircon hypersonic missile.

BrahMos is the only cruise missile to be exported by India. The Philippines will be its first foreign buyer while countries like Indonesia have shown keen interest in it. The current versions of the BrahMos have a range of about 500 km, with the export variant having a range of 290 km to keep it under the MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) restrictions of 300 km.

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