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India

India Building BrahMos II Hypersonic Missile, To Have Russia’s Tsirkon Components

India's BrahMos Aerospace plans to test fire the hypersonic version of the missile in the next five to six years.

BrahMos Missile
An Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30MKI armed with BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. (Credit: BrahMos Aerospace)

New Delhi: BrahMos II, the hypersonic version of India’s supersonic cruise missile, is going to be modelled on the Russian 3M22 Zircon/3M22 Tsirkon (NATO reporting name: SS-N-33). The hypersonic missile will have a much longer range, greater speed and better accuracy than the current BrahMos in India’s arsenal.

According to BrahMos Aerospace CEO Atul Rane, BrahMos II will be ready for test firing in about five to six years. He stated that Russia has developed and tested the hypersonic 3M22 Tsirkon, and its design and components can be used in BrahMos II. 

“If they give us the technology bricks, then we will develop a hypersonic missile. The whole world is working on hypersonics. I have not seen anyone in the world having hypersonic cruise missiles. Russia says it tested the Tsirkon, developed by NPO Mashinostroyeniya,” Rane told TASS, a Russian news agency.

He also pointed out that Russia is the only country with hypersonic missiles in its arsenal while the United States of America  and China are still working on developing the technology.

Russia had in 2021 announced that it will deploy the scramjet powered anti-ship Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile on some of its warships and submarines before the end of 2022. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, work is on to develop a land-based version of Tsirkon.

Tsirkon is slated to have a speed of Mach 9 (over 11,110 kilometres per hour) and a range of 1,000 kms. The hypersonic speed ensures that existing anti-missile systems cannot track and intercept such missiles. Tsirkon is practically invisible to radars as a plasma cloud forms in front due to the high air pressure in front of it. The cloud absorbs radio waves emitted by the radar.

Rane added that unlike the supersonic version, BrahMos II will not be available for export to other countries, instead the missile will arm the defence forces of India and Russia.

With India being a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime, it cannot export missiles which have a range of over 300 km and weight of over 500 kg.

India is exporting three batteries of BrahMos supersonic missiles worth $375 million to the Philippines following a deal in January 2022.

Rane also added that sanctions slapped by western nations on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine have not had any impact on BrahMos Aerospace, the company which manufactures the missile.