Mains Practice Question


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What are supersonic cruise missiles? Discuss the strategic significance of these missiles.
A Simple Introduction about upersonic cruise missiles


Cruise missiles are self-guided, unmanned vehicles that rely on jet engines and aerodynamic lift to deliver their payloads with precision. They travel through the atmosphere, unlike ballistic missiles that follow a high, arcing trajectory. Cruise missiles can be launched from various platforms, including land, air, ships, and submarines. These missiles are categorized based on factors like size, speed, range, and launch platform. One key distinction lies in their speed. Supersonic Cruise Missiles travel at extremely high speeds, typically between 2 and 3 times the speed of sound (Mach 2-3). Their supersonic speed combined with their warhead payload creates a devastating impact on targets.


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The Strategic Importance of Supersonic Cruise Missiles

Supersonic cruise missiles, exemplified by the formidable BrahMos, hold significant strategic relevance owing to their advanced features and operational capabilities:

  • Dual-Stage Propulsion: The BrahMos employs a sophisticated two-stage propulsion system, comprising a solid propellant booster engine and a liquid ramjet. This design enables the missile to achieve supersonic speeds during its flight trajectory, enhancing its agility and effectiveness in hitting targets.
  • Stealth and Versatility: With an exceptionally low radar signature and the ability to maneuver along diverse flight paths, the BrahMos exhibits stealth capabilities, making it challenging for adversaries to detect and intercept. Its versatility allows for effective deployment across various operational scenarios, including land, air, and sea.
  • Standoff Range Engagement: As a "standoff range weapon," the BrahMos can be launched from a considerable distance, enabling the attacker to evade defensive counterfire while maintaining precision and lethality. This standoff capability enhances operational flexibility and reduces the risk of launching platforms.
  • Superior Performance: Compared to subsonic cruise missiles, the BrahMos offers three times the speed, significantly extended flight range, and enhanced striking capabilities. Its unparalleled speed and range make it a formidable asset for preemptive strikes and swift engagements across vast distances.
  • Continuous Advancements: Recent tests, including the successful launch of an extended-range air-launched variant from a frontline SU-30MKI aircraft and an advanced sea-to-sea variant from INS Visakhapatnam, underscore ongoing advancements in BrahMos technology. These developments further augment the missile's operational effectiveness and expand its tactical utility.
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The BrahMos deployment and ongoing advancements solidify India's defence posture. The strategic triad deployment, commitment to modernization, and burgeoning international partnerships position India as a major player in the field of supersonic cruise missile technology.


Other Points to Consider 

Other classifications of cruise missiles

Difference between solid propulsion and liquid propulsion


Previous Year Questions

1. Discuss India’s achievements in the field of Space Science and Technology. How the application of this technology has helped India in its socio-economic development? (2016)

2. India has achieved remarkable successes in unmanned space missions including the Chandrayaan and Mars Orbiter Mission, but has not ventured into manned space mission. What are the main obstacles to launching a manned space mission, both in terms of technology and logistics? Examine critically. (2017)


22-May 2024