Monday, September 14, 2020


Thanks to Arioch, who pointed this piece of news out, I am still trying to get my jaw off the floor. There are many instances of Russians being extremely industrious and creative when designing weapons but this one is close to the very top when describing Russian, how to put it politely, unconventional approach to defense. As the Co-Director of Russian-Indian Joint Venture Brahmos Alexander Maksichev told Ria today (in Russian) the plan for turning Brahmos cruise missile, known primarily for its anti-shipping role, into air-to-air missile to specifically shoot down enemy's AWACS aircraft has been adopted. The first reaction, of course, to this is WTF. Brahmos missile is an export version of P-800 Oniks (aka Yakhont) stand-off high supersonic weapon, with some bells and whistles for some specific India's requirements added to it and it is also a foundation for India's hypersonic program. 

Recently, India tested Brahmos  to 800-kilometer range and that may give us some clue on what is going on here. 400 kilometer range air-to-air missiles are nothing new such as Russian KS-172 which is in serial production and is called anti-AWACS missile for a reason. But since Indian SU-30s are designed specifically to carry Brahmos missiles, one can totally see a possibly 600-800 kilometer range M=3.5 missile to be used against AWACS when proper targeting is provided. Notable, on these distances AWACS wouldn't even know what his it. Moreover, a smaller version of such Brahmos doesn't need a rather massive 300 kilogram warhead of its anti-shipping variant which automatically avails an additional volume for fuel. Also, a complex electronics required for control of anti-shipping version of Brahmos, including its very complex flight profile, especially on terminal, should also reduce missile's weight in air-to-air version. Finally, the drag at the heights of few kilometers at which most AWACS operate is radically reduced when compared to a low (sea-skimming) profile for anti-ship versions. 

The question, thus, is next--who, or, rather, what will provide such a targeting. Well, it is 2020, folks, not 1980 and things changed rather dramatically and a variety of means exists today to make such targeting possible especially since most air-to-air missiles are shoot-and-forget systems which need only initial position of target, plus different variants of CEC (Cooperative Engagement Capability) exist in advanced militaries. It is also obvious that such a Brahmos will have an active radar seeker with a good range which allows missile to conduct final (terminal) refined search and lock on a target. I'm telling ya, this whole thing is getting out of control, next thing you know--hypersonic missiles with the ranges in thousands kilometers... oh, wait! Wink, wink. It is jungle out there, folks, I'm telling you.   

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