Millennium Post

Experiments on to run BrahMos at hypersonic speed

The next big frontier that BrahMos Corporation wants to conquer is taking the speed of the eponymous cruise missile to hypersonic speeds of 6.5 Mach (1 Mach=speed) at which sound waves travel through atmosphere). However, some international defence industrial competitors of the missile call it the classic ‘overkill.’

Shivthanu Pillai, head of the Indo-Russian joint venture, spoke to Millennium Post about how the scientists and technologists related to the corporation have taken it upon themselves to find the ‘special materials,’ metals of high combustion with heavier molecular weight on the periodic table that can withstand very high degrees of temperatures, when fired.

Pillai, an acclaimed scientist himself, says that recently the USA, which is also experimenting with ‘scram jets’ that are supposed to power a cruise missile, besides other objects, have reached the time of sustainable power generation for 250 seconds. BrahMos has not reached that stage yet.
They have reached closer to the 100 seconds mark, after which the special materials vaporises. But they have attained speeds of 6.5 Mach for that short duration. The BrahMos chief pointed out that mastering the ‘scram jet’ technology is important not just for the commercially successful cruise missile, but also re-usable vehicles for such outer space explorations.

The countries that are experimenting with the technology includes, the US, Russia, Australia, and Japan.

The research in India for the technology is centred around a few designated Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) labs. Even as the Mach numbers rise of the BrahMos, its range is still restricted 290-350 Kms, because of the nature of the joint venture. Russia being a signatory of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) cannot sell or transfer technologies of both ballistic and cruise missiles beyond that of a certain range and capacity.

This has led to the exclusion of Russia from production of India’s newest longer range (about 1,000 kms) cruise missile named Nirbhaya. The missile is still under trial and will reach the production stage soon.
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