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    India successfully test fires BrahMos supersonic cruise missile

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    India has successfully tested the latest land attack version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile at a firing range in Pokhran in the Rajasthan Desert, a source in the Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.

    NEW DELHI, March 4 (RIA Novosti) - India has successfully tested the latest land attack version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile at a firing range in Pokhran in the Rajasthan Desert, a source in the Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.

    The source said that the weapon was fired in a vertical-launch configuration and the missile had successfully hit its designated target.

    Officials at India's Defense Research and Development Organization, who has developed the missile together with Russia's NPO Mashinostroyenia, were cited by The Times of India daily as saying it "took two and a half minutes to strike its target at the Pokhran firing range in Rajastahan."

    The first successful test launch of the supersonic cruise missile from a vertical launcher was conducted last December from a mobile platform in the Bay of Bengal. All previous missile launches were carried out from inclined launchers.

    The BrahMos missile has a range of 290 km (180 miles) and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kg (660 lbs). It can effectively engage ground targets from an altitude as low as 10 meters (30 feet) and has a top speed of Mach 2.8, which is about three times faster than the U.S.-made subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile.

    The last test launch of the BrahMos land attack version was carried out in January at the Pokhran firing range, but the missile failed to hit the target, flew off course and later self-destructed.

    Analysts estimate that India could purchase up to 1,000 BrahMos missiles for its armed forces in the next decade, and export 2,000 to other countries during the same period.

    During a recent visit by Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov to India, the two sides agreed to develop a hypersonic version of the missile to be known as BrahMos-2.

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