Brahmos-X – The Extreme performance Missile
A new version of Indo-Russian joint venture missile Brahmos is all set to start its testing soon. Brahmos–X, an extreme performance variant of the missiles will soon start its testing. The current variant of this supersonic cruise missile can neutralize its targets with a maximum speed of 3.2 Mach, at 290 km.
A long-range variant of this missile (Brahmos-ER) is undergoing testing and all existing platforms will be modified to these new standards. This missile now can hit targets up to 600 KM which later will be enhanced up to 800 KM. Brahmos-X will be near hypersonic missile. This system will be capable of reaching maximum speed of up to 4.5 Mach. But it is not clear if this missile system will have longer range like Brahmos-ER or will have a range like the baseline Brahmos i.e. 290 km.
The Baseline Brahmos designated as PJ-10 is based on the Russian P-800 Oniks cruise missile. These two staged missiles are powered by a Ramjet Engine in second stage. The Ramjet engine needs initial velocity before it fires up, thus this missile system is initially boosted by a solid booster and after attaining specific supersonic speed the Ramjet fires up.
Firing sequence can be seen below in the image.
In a ship launched variant, the fins help balance the missile and steer it away from the launching ship. After the missile reaches a safe distance, the cap (with fins attached) falls off the missile and the booster engine ignite. This is the time when it makes the famous 90-degree turn. The rear fins and the booster steering vanes are driven by the same servos that control the sustainer-stage steering fins. Finally, it uses an integrated solid fuel booster. The booster case fits inside the ramjet combustion chamber. When the booster burns out, it (along with the booster nozzle and steering vanes) is ejected out the rear end of the missile, and the ramjet sustainer ignites.
In Brahmos-X the magic is done in the Ramjet stage. The current Ramjet sustainer can take this missile up to 3.5 Mach and the idea is to use the same engine to further take the missile up to 4.5 Mach. This speed performance will be considered extreme with the existing engine and hence the name.
Another version of this missile system is called as Brahmos 2. It will be capable of reaching pure hypersonic speeds. It is believed, that this missile system will be based on HTSDV. The Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) is an unmanned scramjet demonstration system for hypersonic speed flight. It is being developed as a carrier vehicle for hypersonic and long-range cruise missiles. It will also have multiple civilian applications including the launching of small satellites at low cost.
Being a joint venture of India and Russia, it was earlier believed that Brahmos 2 will receive the technology from 3M22 Zircon. Zircon is a scramjet powered maneuvering anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile currently in testing by Russia. The missile has a range of more than 1000 KM and can carry a warhead of 300-400 KG. This missile system can go up to a maximum speed of 8-9 Mach and can fly upto an altitude of 28 KM.
On the other hand, HSTDV program is being run by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). With a scramjet program already in advanced stages, India will likely have Brahmos 2 powered by a desi Scramjet.
Brahmos X – another feather in hat
This supersonic cruise missile is already one of the fastest cruise missiles available in the world (Excluding the one powered by Scramjet). The hypersonic missiles like Brahmos-2 will be comparatively costlier and Brahmos X powered by existing engine can nearly match its performance. Thus, this missile system will be really useful given the volume of existing and upcoming order of current and new variant (powered by same engine).
As the baseline can neutralize it targets at supersonic speed and with pinpoint accuracy, Brahmos-X can do the same thing with almost similar cost at around 30% faster speed. The faster speed will allow it to make it even more difficult for the interceptor missiles.
However, few things that are still not clear but really important are:
1. Will this missile system have a range of 290 KM or 600 KM ?
2. Are the upcoming tests for Brahmos X or other variants?
Nevertheless, this already deadly missile is all set to get deadlier and will certainly enhance the capability of Indian armed forces. Interested to know about HSTDV? Read here.
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