India on Wednesday successfully flight-tested the air variant of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from a Sukhoi SU-30MKI fighter jet to hit a sea-based target in the Bay of Bengal, completing the country's tactical cruise missile triad.
This was the first test of the missile's air version against a target.
The heavyweight missile, integrated with the long-range fighter, is seen as a force multiplier for the Indian Air Force.
BrahMos, the world's "fastest supersonic cruise missile with a multi-platform, multi-mission role, is now capable of being launched from land, sea and air," a Defence Ministry statement said in New Delhi.
"BrahMos created history on November 22 after it was successfully flight-tested for the first time from the IAF frontline fighter aircraft Sukhoi-30MKI against a sea-based target in the Bay of Bengal," the statement said.
Earlier, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted that the missile had been successfully tested. She congratulated the DRDO and Team BrahMos.
After being gravity dropped from the Su-30, the two-stage missile's engine fired up and straightway propelled it toward the intended target.
"The successful maiden test-firing of BrahMos Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) from Su-30MKI will significantly bolster the IAF's air combat capability from stand-off ranges.
"BrahMos ALCM, weighing 2.5 tonnes, is the heaviest weapon to be deployed on India's Su-30 aircraft, modified by Hindustan Aeronautical Ltd to carry weapons," the statement said.
The missile test was witnessed by Sudhir Mishra, Director General (BrahMos), and CEO and MD, BrahMos Aerospace, along with IAF officials, scientists and officials from DRDO and BrahMos.
BrahMos is a joint venture between the Defence Research and Development Organisation of India and NPOM of Russia.
The Su-30, considered the most potent fighter jet with India, was the choice for fitting the Brahmos missile as it has an airframe of titanium and high-strength aluminium alloys, fit for a high-speed terrain following profile.
The fighter jet's aerodynamic configuration increases the aircraft's lifting effectiveness, deflects automatically and allows high angle-of-attack flights.
The integral aerodynamic configuration combined with thrust vectoring results in practically unlimited manoeuvrability and unique take-off and landing characteristics.
According to informed sources, the modification to the fighter includes hardened electronic circuitry to shield it from the electromagnetic pulse of a nuclear blast.
Along with the aircraft, the missile was also modified to make it carry a reduced booster and fins for stability.
The missile can be released from a height of 500 to 14,000 metres (1,640 to 46,000 feet). After release, the missile falls freely for 100-150 metres, then moving into a cruise phase at 14,000 metres and finally the terminal phase at 15 metres.
The air variant of the missile is lighter than its sea and land counterparts.