As Nirbhay Missile Project is mostly Cancelled.Is India’s Preparing to Purchase Kalibr Cruise Missile From Russia?
Last year Russian Navy for the first time fired 26 Kalibr 3M-54 land attack cruise missile from the Caspian Sea at 11 targets in Syrian territory controlled by the Islamic State. land attack cruise missiles traveled nearly 1500km over Two different countries airspace before it struck its target with precision .
Such long range attack carried out by Russian Naval cruise missiles demonstrated to the West that it now has the capability to strike from long range using subsonic cruise missiles with precision which was formerly monopolised by the US and its allies.
Kalibr 3M-54 is a long-range, low-flying cruise missile capable of carrying conventional or nuclear warheads. It has land-attack, anti-ship and anti-submarine variants. the missile can carry 450 kg warhead and has a subsonic terminal speed of Mach 0.8 and also has a second stage that performs a supersonic sprint in the terminal approach to the target, reducing the time that target’s defence systems have to react.
India’s own cruise missile project Nirbhay is on the verge of closure claimed latest Indian media reports after a recent test of the missile was declared an absolute disaster and Government of India now mulling plans to close the project due to repeated delays and failed tests. Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) developed Nirbhay was initially demanded by Indian Army nearly 15 years ago and Project went active nearly 12 years ago.
But since 2013 missile has been tested Four times, with Three complete failures and only one partial success to its credit. Sub-sonic long-range, low-flying cruise missile capable of carrying conventional warheads to take down tactical targets is an offensive weapons system which every modern Army could like to have at its disposal and could have been one of the crucial weapons system needed to implement India’s “cold start” doctrine under which it is required to deliver precise strikes across the border.
Kalibr reportedly also has range of 1500-2500 km and Russians have already developed Submarine launched, Anti-ship, Land attack variant of it, export variant to India might come with 1500km range but ability to fire them from Improved Kilo-class submarine through torpedo tube without needing major modifications to hull of the submarine will be added advantage to Indian Navy .
The Indian Navy already possesses “Kalibr” missiles, but only the anti-ship variety. New Delhi wants to get a modification, used for attacks on terrorists in Syria. These are distinguished by the presence of a new high precision guidance system
“The strengths of the “Kalibr” are its high precision and the ability to hit well-protected objects, including control and air defence facilities centres”, Lavrov said. “The most important thing is the surprise effect. When there is an air raid, the enemy has time to react, but cruise missiles strike unexpectedly. In addition, “Kalibr” has an advantage – it can manoeuvre and hit the target from unexpected directions.”
Kalibr now seems to be India’s backup plan if India really decides to pull the plug on homegrown cruise missile program in future or decides to continue its development in parallel while it goes for Kalibr to meet armed forces immediate needs, hoping this experience benefits Nirbhay missile program in long term. India started working on Nirbhay program only because MTCR regulation prevented Russia from transferring technology of long-range subsonic cruise missiles or could have come with a limited range of less 300 like it did with BrahMos.
India and Russia together are already working to enhance current range of BrahMos from 292 to 600 km and also in pipelines is development of smaller and nimble BrahMos NG (Next Generation ) which will have the same punch in terms of speed and range as current generation BrahMos but will be Smaller in dimension and will feature reduced weight, benefiting from newer technologies to develop next generation BrahMos