India on March 23 successfully test fired the extended range version of a surface-to-surface BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from a launch pad in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Officials connected with the launch said the "extended range BrahMos missile hit its target with pinpoint accuracy".
The successful launch of what is arguably the world’s fastest cruise missile with a maximum speed of Mach 2.8 (nearly three times the speed of sound), was witnessed by the Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari.
Incidentally, the Indian Navy had, on March 5, successfully launched an extended range land attack BrahMos missile from INS Chennai, the Navy’s indigenously built stealth destroyer. After the launch a spokesperson for the Navy had said: "Long range precision strike capability of the advanced version of the BrahMos missile successfully validated. Pin point destruction of the target, clearly demonstrated the combat and mission readiness of frontline platforms."
The BrahMos missile, which has been developed by the joint venture between Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against surface- and sea-based targets, and can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads of up to 300 kilogram. Although the supersonic cruise missile’s range had been capped at 298 km in tune with stipulations of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the DRDO, following India’s entry into the MTCR club in June 2016, recently extended and successfully test fired the missile to around 450 km (which will be further extended to 600 km).
In January it was announced that BrahMos Aerospace Private Ltd, the Indo-Russian aerospace and defence corporation, had bagged a $375 million (Rs.2,770 crore) contract to export the 290-km range BrahMos missiles to the Philippines. The "Notice of Award" to BrahMos Aerospace Private Ltd was for at least three missile batteries of the BrahMos’ shore-based anti-ship variant.
The long-awaited, pandemic-delayed announcement by the Philippines’ Department of National Defence was a major boost to India’s defence exports, of which BrahMos is the first major one. The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and South Africa are also reportedly interested in acquiring the 'fire and forget’ missile system.
The first air launch of BrahMos was successfully carried out from a Su-30MKI fighter aircraft in 2017.