Nirbhay Cruise Missile to be tested With Indigenous Engine
Amid the ongoing India-China stand-off in Ladakh, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is preparing for yet another missile test — an 800 km-range subsonic ‘Nirbhay’ cruise missile — which is likely to take place by the end of October or in early November.
This test is likely to be the last trial before the ‘Nirbhay’ missile is inducted formally into the armed forces.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) continued with its successful run of missions this year, when it successfully conducted a ‘textbook precision’ launch of the home-grown missiles.
Officials now confirm that the developmental phase trials of the Nirbhay missile are over, having completed all mission objectives. “The next set of trials will be as per the user requirements. We will be also testing the missile with an indigenously-developed small turbofan engine (STFE) soon,” an official said.
The Bangalore-bred missile is said to have demonstrated its sea-skimming capabilities while cruising at very-low altitudes of 5-metre altitude over the sea in the previous test conducted in April 2019. During this mission, the Nirbhay missile covered waypoints as low as 5 metres to a maximum of 2.5km. The entire flight was fully tracked by a chain of electro-optical tracking systems, radars and ground telemetry systems deployed all along the sea coast.
The mission was completed within 43 minutes, covering 15 waypoints. In its terminal phase, the Nirbhay missile is said to have travelled at a sustained altitude of 5 meters, which lasted about 10 minutes. This is a very significant achievement that gives huge advantage for the weapon system. The missile has a range in excess of 1,000 km and Monday’s mission saw it being tested in a low-altitude role, with the target being within the 650-700 km range. The target was a designated location in the sea.
Interestingly, the DRDO seems to have ‘dropped’ the name ‘Manik’ given to the desi engine earlier, though an official word on this couldn’t be gathered.
Message To China?
Asked whether the back-to-back tests were part of the messaging towards China, sources explained that some of the tests were planned for earlier but got delayed due to the pandemic, while in some cases the tests were scheduled for now.
“The missile tests were held up due to the pandemic, even though the labs were working round the clock. These tests show that the DRDO is back to business as usual,” a DRDO source said.(With reporting by The Week & ThePrint by combining related series)