Indian PJ-10 stealth ramjet missile could boost double its range

NEW DELHI ($1=82.41 Indian Rupees) — The PJ-10, better known as the BrahMos, could benefit from a Russian upgrade, almost doubling its range. Currently, according to official data, the stealth missile has a maximum range of <500 km. According to claims from 2017, the naval version of the missile reached a range of 800 km. However, it was reported at the time that BrahMos was about to reach 800 km, but there is no word yet on whether this range has been reached.

BrahMos sea-to-sea missile did a precise strike at 500 km
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Russia is preparing to increase the range of its P-800 Onyx (SS-NX-26) missile to 1,000 km. BrahMos is based precisely on the Onyx missile. One version of the Onyx missiles, the Onyx-M has a range of 800 km. The Onyx is also ramjet-powered, taking its origins from another Cold War-era Russian missile development, the P-700 Granit.

BrahMos emerged as an investment of the Indian Ministry of Defence. New Delhi decided to help finance the $240 million P-800 Onyx project, which at the time had stalled in funding, leaving Moscow in a desperate position. By investing in the Russian missile, India gained access to the Onyx inertial navigation system, which today underpins BrahMos.

The BrahMos’ 500km range has been achieved through changes such as higher altitude cruising and better fuel management. The announced range in 2017 of 800 km should have been achieved by optimizing the cruise performance of the rocket’s linear jet engine. According to sources in India, who claim that despite the lack of an official announcement, the 800 km range has been achieved, say that a key role in increasing the range is played by the use of composite materials. Through them, the Indians reduced the weight of the rocket by increasing the fuel load.

Mach 4.5

If India takes advantage of the Onyx update and upgrades the BrahMos to 1,000 km, it could mean that the top speed is also about to be increased. As early as three years ago, there was talk of a similar option. At the time, Alexander Maksichev, co-managing director of the BrahMos project, said that from Mach 2.8, the speed of BrahMos could reach Mach 4.5. I.e. according to sources, this means a BrahMos ramjet upgrade. Thus, as the speed of the rocket increases, it is expected to travel at a greater speed.

The Russian press has reported an upcoming update to the P-800 Onyx missile but has not said when. That upgrade may not happen anytime soon, given the war between Russia and Ukraine, which is draining Moscow’s considerable financial resources. However, sources say India will benefit from the revamp, regardless of when it happens. This means that in the coming years BrahMos will have a range of 1,000 or just over 1,000 km. On another note, India may already be working on extending the missile’s range beyond its dependence on Russia in this area.

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