November 21, 2012
India has delayed plans to loft Nirbhay, its first subsonic cruise missile, until early 2013.
Nirbhay’s launch was to take place in November from Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast in eastern India.
“It will now be done in January 2013,” a senior scientist at the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) says. He blamed the holdup on launcher modifications.
Designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment, a DRDO unit based in the southern city of Bengaluru, Nirbhay (meaning fearless) is a two-stage, surface-to-surface, terrain-hugging missile with a striking range of about 1,000 km (621 mi.).
The stealth missile can cruise at a 30-meter altitude at a speed of nearly 0.7 Mach.
Once Nirbhay’s development trials have been successfully conducted, the missile will be inducted into India’s army, navy and air force, the DRDO official says.
Indian scientists have been working on the missile for more than seven years. DRDO officials conducted a project review in Bengaluru last August.