January 25, 2013
India will test fly its Nirbhay subsonic cruise missile in February, a top defense scientist says.
“Nirbhay is at a final state of integration and we hope to flight-test its capabilities, including stealth and accuracy, next month” says V.K. Saraswat, head of state-run Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). Nirbhay will be launched from Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Odisha, in eastern India.
This is the first time the country has developed a cruise missile able to travel at subsonic speed. The two-stage, surface-to-surface missile has good loitering capability, control and guidance, accuracy and stealth features, according to Saraswat.
The all-weather weapon is set to be inducted into the Indian navy, army and air force during the next 12-18 months. The nearly 20-ft.-long, 1-ton missile was designed by DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Establishment. Capable of being launched from land, sea or air, the 750-km (470-mi.)-range weapon can cruise at low altitudes to evade radar detection.
“Nirbhay is being integrated with a ring-laser gyro-based, high-accuracy navigation system and radio altimeter,” a DRDO official says.
It will supplement the joint Indo-Russian Brahmos cruise missile by carrying warheads beyond 300-km range. The supersonic 290-km-range Brahmos flies at Mach 2.8.