BrahMos missileThe first prototype of hypersonic cruise missile BrahMos 2, currently under development by Russian-Indian joint venture Brahmos Aerospace, is expected to be available for test flights in 2017.

Speaking at an engineering technology forum near Moscow, Brahmos Aerospace CEO Sivathanu Pillai said that the company had already completed a series of lab tests of the missile at speeds of Mach 6.5.

"I think we will need about five years to develop the first fully-functional prototype [of the hypersonic missile]," Pillai said.

Pillai added that the missile would be manufactured in ground-launched, airborne and sea-launched modes; with it being scheduled to be supplied exclusively to India and Russia without additional worldwide exports.

The development of the missile, with speeds in the range of Mach 5-Mach 7, was initiated by Brahmos Aerospace, a joint venture of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and NPO Mashinostroyenia in 2011.

"I think we will need about five years to develop the first fully-functional prototype of the hypersonic missile."

Derived from the Russian-built P-800 Oniks / Yakhont supersonic anti-ship cruise missile, the BrahMos is a stealth supersonic cruise missile, designed for launch from land, ship, submarines and air platforms.

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Powered by a solid propellant rocket and possessing a liquid-fuelled ramjet to sustain supersonic cruise, the 290km range missile has a speed of Mach 2.8 and is capable of intercepting surface targets by flying as low as 10m above the ground even in mountainous terrain and hillocks.

The ground and ship-launched variants of the BrahMos has been successfully tested and inducted into service with the Indian Army and Navy, while the flight tests of the airborne version are expected to be complete by the end of this year.

Image: A BrahMos cruise missile being displayed during IMDS-2007. Photo: courtesy of One half 3544.