By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: Nirbhay, the desi version of Tomahawk subsonic cruise missile will be ready for flight trials in December. Designed and developed at Bangalore-based Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) unit, the two-stage missile has a range of about 1,000 km. It can travel at a speed of 0.7 Mach, performing multiple manoeuvers, before hitting the target.
Nirbhay (meaning fearless) will be India's first subsonic cruise missile, capable of being launched from different platforms. It is also India's first made-in-Bangalore missile, developed outside DRDO's Missile Complex in Hyderabad. Sources told Express that the launch, earlier planned for October, has now been shifted to December owing to the changes being made to the launcher. It is being built by R&D Engineers, Pune, a specialised arm of DRDO.
Other than one major imported component (a Russian-made turbofan engine), sources claim that the missile is completely indigenous. The cost of Nirbhay is expected to be around Rs 10 crore a piece with DRDO spending around Rs 70 crore so far. Though the project was sanctioned in 2004, the scientists ran into many critical challenges. “There were many unforeseen events we had to counter and overcome while developing Nirbhay. The project picked up momentum in 2010 onwards,” sources said.
All the three defence Services have shown interest in Nirbhay and DRDO is riding high on the success of Agni A1, A2, A3, A4 and A5 missiles tested in the last five months. “Nirbhay is a medium-range cruise missile capable of flying at different altitudes ranging from 500 metres to four km. It is approximately 6 metres long and 550 mm in diameter. A booster and sustainer with two wings make the missile fly at low altitudes, completely ducking enemy radars. The air-breathing engine along with four tail fins control the velocity and path of the missile. Nirbhay is integrated with ring-laser gyro-based high accuracy navigation system and a radio altimeter for the height lock,” sources said.
A team of 25 scientists have been working on Nirbhay project at ADE, while another 50 were spread across various DRDO labs. ADE bagged the Nirbhay project, owing to their success with the pilotless target aircraft, Lakshya.
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Prithivi a hit again: Prithvi (PII), the 350-km range strategic missile was successfully launched by Strategic Forces Command from the Integrated Test Range in Chandipur, on Thursday morning. A one-line DRDO release said that the missile met all mission objectives.