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    India, Russia develop airborne supersonic cruise missile

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    The Russian-Indian BrahMos Aerospace joint venture has finished the development of the airborne version of an advanced supersonic missile, the company's managing director has said.

    NEW DELHI, June 20 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian-Indian BrahMos Aerospace joint venture has finished the development of the airborne version of an advanced supersonic missile, the company's managing director has said.

    Established in 1998, BrahMos Aerospace designs, produces, and markets supersonic missiles, whose sea-based and land-based versions have been successfully tested and put into service with the Indian Army and Navy.

    "For the airborne version...we had to reduce the mass of the missile and to ensure aerodynamic stability after its separation from the aircraft. The air-launched platform has its own initial speed during the launch of the missile, so we have reduced the size of the booster. Now the missile is ready," Sivathanu Pillai told RIA Novosti in an exclusive interview.

    The BrahMos missile has a range of 180 miles (290 kms) and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 660 pounds. It can hit surface targets while flying at an altitude as low as 10 meters (30 feet) and at a speed of Mach 2.8, which is about three times faster than the U.S.-made subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile.

    The official said the Indian Air Force had chosen SU-30 MKI Flanker-H multirole fighter as a trial platform for the missile.

    "We have a schedule for flight trials, but progress has slowed down, as Russia's Sukhoi Design Bureau has its own priority for fifth generation aircraft," Pillai said.

    India is planning to produce at least 140 Su-30MKI fighters by 2014 under a Russian license with full technology transfer.

    Experts estimate that India might purchase up to 1,000 BrahMos missiles for its Armed Forces in the next decade, and export 2,000 to third countries during the same period.

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