Success of Nirbhay catches world attention
The remarkable success of the Nirbhay long-range ground-launched cruise missile from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) on October 17 has been watched keenly around the world, especially in the region. The largely indigenous missile, sporting a fully Indian inertial navigation system (INS) based guidance system and first stage, performed better than expected, striking within 10 metres of its intended endgame site in the Indian Ocean a little after 11 a.m. The 1,000+ km range cruise missile, with a cruise velocity of 0.7 Mach, is capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear warheads, and is capable of being configured for cruise anywhere from 100 metres to 5 km.
Over the next three years, the missile will be tested several more times before it is cleared for operational service both with conventional missile units as well as the Strategic Forces Command (SFC). DRDO chief Dr Avinash Chander has also emphasised that scientists will be looking to spinoff air-launched (from the Su-30 platform) and ship-launched land attack versions too. For the Aeronautical Development Establishment in Bengaluru and Advanced Systems Laboratory in Hyderabad, the recent success is redemption more than a year after the Nirbhay’s first test ended in a forced abort following a guidance system malfunction owing to a subcomponent failure. Extensive redundancies and health monitoring capabilities were integrated with the second missile system for the test, resulting in a fully predictable performance. Unlike the BrahMos, the Nirbhay will be hailed as a truly Indian cruise missile, since range parameters will exclude the possibility of a Russian propulsion system on productionised variants of the weapon system.