India will test the air variant of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile before the end of 2012, a top official of BrahMos Aerospace said today.
"We are going to test the missile from air so that it can be inducted into the Indian Air Force. The testing will be done before the end of 2012," Brahmos Aerospace Chief Executive Officer A Sivathanu Pillai told reporters here.
BrahMos has already been inducted into the Army and the Navy after succesful tests.
Pillai said the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) was working on increasing the speed of its missiles. "We are also working on achieving hypersonic speed. It will take some five years from now."
Former President and missile expert A P J Abdul Kalam had recently asked the BrahMos Aerospace to "develop an hypersonic version" that should be able to deliver its payload and return to base.
The cruise missiles developed by BrahMos, a joint venture between India and Russia, can travel at speeds of Mach 2.8 (2.8 times the speed of sound) against US' Tomahawk at 0.8 Mach, he said.
India is the only country to have a supersonic cruise missile developed in a joint venture with Russia and the maiden launch of BrahMos was carried out a decade ago at the Interim Test Range at Chandipur-on-sea in Orissa.