NIRBHAY CRUISE MISSILE TO BE TESTED THIS YEAR
India’s little-known Nirbhay long-range cruise missile is understood to be ready for its first test this year. The project, designated secret by the Ministry of Defence, but acknowledged to exist officially by the government, is a 750-1,000-km two-stage cruise missile with an extended loitering capability. Unlike the BrahMos family and the long-range scramjet-powered supersonic cruise missile that is also understood to be in the works, the Nirbhay is a high subsonic cruise platform designed for both conventional and nuclear payload delivery. In terms of performance parameters, the Nirbhay is compared by the design team with the American Tomahawk.
The Nirbhay is being developed for land, sea and air launch, making it perhaps India’s most potent stand-off weapon for strategic purposes. With a low cruising altitude and in-built design to evade missile defence cordons, the Nirbhay will be deployed in three dimensions both with conventional units as well as the Strategic Forces Command. It is understood that the prototype Nirbhay is powered by a turbofan engine built by Russia’s NPO Saturn. While the Agni ballistic missile and K-series hybrid weapons enter service, the country’s deterrent forces will be looking at the Nirbhay with great interest from this year as it begins its trial by fire. The Nirbhay will be mounted on a Tata 12x12 truck when it enters service.