Posted by Douglas Barrie at 8/28/2008 12:16 PM CDT
Indian defense executives took the opportunity of a recent weapons exhibition in Moscow to once again raise the issue of a “successor” to the Indo-Russian Brahmos rocket-ramjet powered cruise missile.
However, given the performance aspirations for the weapon - dubbed Brahmos-2 – the name would likely be the only commonality with the present Brahmos.
The Brahmos is a variant of the NPO Mashinostroenia 3M-55 Onyx (SS-NX-26) anti-ship missile. It has a cruise speed on the order of Mach 2.6. Sivathanu Pillai, the CEO at the Brahmos company, has repeatedly suggested the follow on – Brahmos-2 – will be a hypersonic weapon. Brahmos is a partnership between NPO Mashinostroenia and India’s Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
The 3M-55 is a capable weapon but neither the propulsion system nor the airframe design or materials are remotely suitable for a hypersonic weapon. Scramjet or hybrid ramjet propulsion would be required for an air-breathing weapon, with advanced materials technology, possibly including active cooling, needed to deal with the temperatures generated at such speeds.
Exactly how Brahmos-2 relates to the DRDO’s Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) program has also yet to become clear.
Pillai told the Russian news agency Interfax that he also wanted the Brahmos-2 to be “invisible”.
While this could present an issue in the infra-red spectrum, given airframe heating, NPO Mashinostroenia already has a track record in working on passive and active low observable technology in the radio frequency spectrum for high altitude cruise weapons.
Its 3M-25 Meteorit strategic cruise missile, which was never fielded, was associated with a plasma-generation system believed to be intended to reduce the radar cross-section of the missile by shielding the air intake and possibly the nose section.
Russia has a long-standing interest in hypersonic cruise missile technology, while India is also exploring technologies applicable to this area through the likes of the HSTDV. Brahmos-2, should it ever progress, could prove to be a very interesting weapon.
Picture Credit D.Barrie/AW&ST