Brahmos - 2 An Invincible Cruise Missile

Rathindra Nath Biswas, Calcutta 700094

2019-05-03 12:49:51

Credit: Zee Business

Credit: Zee Business

There is nothing common except the name between the earlier version of BrahMos & BrahMos - 2 , an invincible second generation scramjet cruise missile already developed & made in India in collaboration with Russia . The name has been derived from river Brahmaputra & river Moscow.

The earlier version of BrahMos has already been inducted in the Indian Army &  is a very dependable precision missile capable of destroying enemies. It is a mid range cruise missile with ramjet engine having speed between 2.8 to 3 Mach (3457-3704 km/hr) approx. , operating altitude  about 10m to 15 km & range about 290 km.  .However due to its low speed it is somewhat vulnerable to enemy's antimissile defence system. Hence decision was taken to develop a hypersonic missile with the name BrahMos - 2 in collaboration with Russia. It has a hypersonic speed of 7 Mach. Due to its very high speed BrahMos - 2 is invisible to enemy's detection system. Moreover it has far more range & superior destructive power. The design was completed by DRDO ,India in 2011  & the missile system is expected to be inducted into service by 2020. It is one of India's top of the line most powerful war machine and due to obvious reason only broad parameters of the device is known to general public.

BrahMos - 2 combines the best of ballistic & cruise missiles. They do not fly along the predictable trajectory of a ballistic missile , but instead highly maneuverable like a  cruise missile. This not only allows them to penetrate enemy's missile defence system, but maneuverability can potentially provide them the ability to use in-flight updates to attack a different target than originally planned . It can attack ten targets at a time. With the ability of unpredictable trajectories it will hold extremely large areas of the enemy at risk throughout much of their flights . Currently Russia, USA & China have developed this missile. China has this missile with speed of Mach 10 (12348 km/h). They have tested the system for 10 times in 2014. It was reported that their 2nd test exploded in midair.

 It is a cruise missile that flies at a screaming velocity of  Mach7 (8644 km/hr) i.e 7 times the speed of sound on hypersonic scramjet technology. Scramjet engine is a type of jet engine. It carries the fuel on board . It has a converging inlet where air is compressed due to hypersonic speed of the missile moving at high speed at high altitude where enough 02 is present. Hence it does not require any separate compressor , hence no complexity. The second part is combustion chamber which is an empty space where fuel is injected & burnt with compressed air to produce heat.. Last part is a diverging nozzle through which the combustion product emerges out at a very high speed (Mach 5 to 10) to produce thrust. The fuel must be injected, mixed with air , ignited & burnt within millisecond to sustain combustion. An isolator between inlet & combustion chamber is provided to improve the homogeneity of of the flow. Fuel is injected at 100 bar pressure by a turbo pump & accelerated to higher speed than air by a nozzle & thoroughly mixed in a comb like structure. It perhaps use Aluminum powder as solid fuel & also use special hydrocarbon based liquid fuel containing pyrophoric additives like silane to avoid flameout & also suitable for operating at low temperature of minus 70 degree centigrade.

The enormous energy of such a fast moving missile will provide India a brilliant weapon to destroy deeply buried enemy's   nuclear , biological & other protected locations. As a result of phenomenal speed enemy at the target locations will have practically no time to react an attack. The hypersonic weapon's immense destructive power results from its enormous kinetic energy. An object striking a target at a speed of 6 Mach will generate 36 times the force of an object of the same mass striking at 1 Mach. The present range of BrahMos-2 is 290 km , but expected to be increased to 700 km , as India is now a signatory of MTCR(missile technology control regime) . It is no ballistic , i.e it is not at the mercy of gravitational force . It can fly at the altitude from 10 m above the ground to 40km in the higher atmosphere. It can hit the target within 10 m. This type of missiles generally carry 300 kg of conventional / nuclear warhead.

It uses GPS signal to determine the location of the target. Both radar target seeker & an optical-electronic complex in charge of tracing & detecting targets at hypersonic speed are provided . It has also terrain comparison guidance system . The system uses sensitive altimeter to measure the profile of the ground & checks the result against the stored information.

At hypersonic speed air friction heats the missile to 1000 degree centigrade at Mach 5 & to 2700 deg. centigrade at Mach 8. Moreover the combustion chamber is subjected to severe corrosion. To offset these problems composite materials of carbon , zirconium, Inconel alloys, refractory material etc. are used.

 BarhMos-2 can be launched from land based mobile platform , ship , submarine & aircraft . It is a fire & forget type missile.  In the first stage the missile is launched to a predetermined height of 40 to 100 km & with a predetermined initial speed with the help of a rocket. BrohMos -2 is believed to be a winged cruise missile with a lift generating center body . A booster stage with solid fuel engine accelerates it to a supersonic speed at which point the scramjet is fired which then propel the missile in the direction of the target. It searches , captures & hits the target after determing the coordinates calculated by the onboard computer control. Then the sramjet engine is switched off. At the active end of the cruise part , the power plant is separated from the combat module which led to decrease in drag . The combat module will be able to bear the remaining load & complete the last part of the journey. At the same time due to size reduction the missile visibility well is very less & that is very important while approaching the target. During the flight the missile is completely surrounded with plasma cloud that absorbs all RF rays which makes it invisible & remains undetected. Rather than leaving the payload at the mercy of gravitational forces as in ICBM the warheads are attached to a glide vehicle which re-enters the atmosphere. Due to aerodynamic shape it can ride the shock waves giving it enough speed to evade the enemy's detection system.