LRLACM: India’s Next Cruise missile will have Range of Nirbhay and Speed of BrahMos
Indian Ministry of Defence has cleared the proposed development of Long-Range Land Attack Cruise Missile (LRLACM) for Ship launched cruise missile for Land-based strikes for the Indian Navy which will also be adopted later for the Air force and Army variant with a range of 1000 km, just like Nirbhay Cruise missile with a hint of BrahMos speed.
In a statement today following the decision, the Indian MoD said the long range land attack cruise missile (LRLACM) would ‘add to the fire power of three services‘ and that the ‘addition of LRLACM with firing range of 1000 km to the existing arsenal will bolster the attack capabilities of the Navy and the Air Force.’
While the land-launched Nirbhay system has been in launch test since 2013, Livefist first revealed plans for the improved air-launched derivative in this detailed report. The DRDO and Indian Navy have also been conducting range extension studies to spawn a 1,500 km range LRLACM for ships. Today’s decision makes a so far exploratory effort official — the Nirbhay (and its derivatives) will be a tri-services missile system, and one of the most crucial in India’s arsenal. The Indian Air Force is likely to induct ground-launched versions of the LRLACM too before the separate air-launched version.
The LRLACM will be a vastly improved version of the Nirbhay, not just in terms of range, but also possibly its propulsion scheme. More on that in a moment.Interestingly, the Nirbhay project, which completed six developmental trials from March 2013 to April 2019, has been technically closed.
The project has taken a new ‘desi’ avatar with a renewed outlook and will be now known as the Indigenous Technology Cruise Missile (ITCM). The Indian power plant for ITCM—the Short turbofan engine (STFE)—is developed by Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) in Bengaluru.
The first launch of ITCM will be with STFE and it will have an RF seeker developed by RCI, Hyderabad. The trial is expected to be conducted in April this year.The air-launched variant of ITCM too is taking shape at ADE in addition to a submarine-launched variant as well.
With the BrahMos cruise missile, now operational with all three armed forces, taking care supersonic duties — including an active range expansion exercise that will put it out to 900 km or more — the LRLACM will be developed as a clear Nirbhay derivative, but with additional propulsion elements. As Livefist has reported here, the LRLACM could involve a three-stage power system: the Nirbhay booster to put the missile in the air, the NPO Saturn 36MT/Manik turbofan to power the cruise missile through its 1,000-km cruise phase and, finally, a ramjet engine that will push the weapon into supersonic endgame towards its target.