India’s version of the Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA stealth fighter will likely be armed with the Russian-Indian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. However, the weapon—which is based-on the P-800 Oniks anti-ship missile—will have to be modified to be carried onboard the fifth-generation warplane.
“We are presenting BrahMos to many Indian public and private defense companies, from some of them we get a technical job,” Sudhir Mishra, the head of BrahMos Aerospace, told the Russian media outlet RIA Novosti.
“We presented it also to developers of the FGFA — they asked to adjust the size of the missile, so it can be placed on board the aircraft. Such work is ongoing.”
While the Indians and Russians have been having disagreements on work share and the price tag of the Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA)—as the Indian PAK-FA is known—the addition of the BrahMos to the jet would afford New Delhi a potent new capability.
One the stealthy new aircraft has completed development, the FGFA—assuming the project materializes—would enable the Indian Air Force to penetrate into hostile airspace and strike at even the most heavily defended targets. The jet would use its stealth and speed to get into launch position and launch the BrahMos from standoff ranges.
With its Mach 3.0 speed and 180-mile range, the BrahMos missile used in combination with the PAK-FA would enable India to hit Chinese and Pakistani targets with relative impunity. A Mach 3.0-capable cruise missile is difficult to counter. According to U.S. Navy sources, the BrahMos has a particular terminal phase that makes it particularly difficult to intercept.
Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter: @davemajumdar.
Image: Creative Commons/Flickr.