India will now be able to strike “deep into the heart of China” with a nuclear missile after making modifications to its powerful Su-30MKI multirole fighter jet, according to a report from the Washington-based National Interest magazine. India’s Strategic Forces Command is said to have modified 42 of its Su-30MKI aircraft so that they can carry air-launched BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.
New Delhi already has around 200 Su-30MKI aircraft in its arsenal and plans to eventually acquire 282 of the fourth-generation combat fighter, which is intended to be the “backbone” of the Indian Air Force through 2020 and beyond.
The Brahmos, on the other hand, is the fastest cruise missile in the world, capable of traveling at speeds of Mach 3.0 — or 3,000 meters per second.
“In tests, the BrahMos has often cut warships in half and reduced ground targets to smithereens,” said the Russia and India Report, adding that pairing the two together will drastically expand the striking power of the air leg of India’s nuclear triad.
“The Sukhoi’s blistering speed will add extra momentum to the missile, plus the aircraft’s ability to penetrate hardened air defenses means there is a greater chance for the pilot to deliver the missile on to its designated target,” the report said.
Importantly, when the Su-39’s 1,800-km range is combined with the Brahmos’ ability to hit targets 300 km away, India will now be able to strike deep into the heart of China or Pakistan with a nuclear warhead.
In addition, India has also been testing the Agni-V, a three-stage solid-fueled intermediate-range ballistic missile. With a range of about 5,000 km, the missile will give India the ability to strike any part of China with nuclear weapons for the very first time, the National Interest said.