Russia’s state-run TASS news agency reported on Wednesday that the country has developed a variant of the Oniks supersonic cruise missile with a range of 800km. The Indo-Russian BrahMos cruise missile was developed on the basis of the Oniks.
TASS quoted sources from the Research and Production Association of Machine-Building (known as NPO Mashinostroyeniya) that had developed the Oniks-M sea-launched missile. The new weapons can hit both naval and land targets. Tests of the Oniks-M will begin in the coming months. The original Oniks missile is thought to have a range of around 300km and could travel at a speed of over Mach 2.5 (2.5 times the speed of sound). The missile uses a radar seeker and satellite navigation for guidance.
TASS reported “The missile is outfitted with the improved control system and will be capable of striking both naval and ground targets with greater accuracy." The new missile also has improved protection against electronic countermeasures that seek to hinder its seeker from locking on to a target.
Work on the Oniks missile started in 1982 in the former Soviet Union and the missile became operational in 2002. Russia is deploying the Oniks missile on its surface ships and submarines, replacing older cruise missiles. An export variant of the Oniks, called the Yakhont, has been sold to Syria, Indonesia and Vietnam. The Russian military revealed the first combat use of the Oniks missile in November 2016, broadcasting footage of the weapons being launched from a land-based launcher at ISIS targets in Syria.
The first test of the BrahMos missile, which is operational with the Indian Navy and Army, was conducted in 2001. BrahMos Aerospace was formed as a JV between DRDO and NPO Mashinostroyeniya through an agreement on February 12, 1998.
The BrahMos has a guidance system developed in India. BrahMos was originally advertised as having a range of 290km. However, company officials and experts had repeatedly said it was possible to extend it range.
Interestingly, Mishra had spoken of the possibility of extending the system’s range to 800km last month. Interacting with TASS at the MAKS air show in Moscow in August, Mishra had said, “We already fired [BrahMos cruise missiles] to a range of 400 km. Very soon, we will confirm that we can fire to a range of 500 km. This will be a sea, ground or air-launched version. Even to an extended range of 800 km is possible.”