|Type||Long-range, all-weather, subsonic cruise missile|
|Place of origin||India|
|Used by||Indian Navy
Indian Air Force
|Produced||Expected in 2016|
2.84 mwarhead=conventional or thermonuclear
|1,000 -1500 km|
Nirbhay is an all-weather low-cost long-range cruise missile with stealth and high accuracy. The missile has a range of more than 1000 km. It weighs about one tonne and has a length of 6 metres. It carries a ring laser gyroscope for high-accuracy navigation and a radio altimeter for the height determination. It is capable of being launched from multiple platforms on land, sea and air and shall be inducted into Indian Navy, Army, and Air Force. In particular, Nirbhay is being adapted for the Indo/Russian Su-30MKI. The missile is capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
A DRDO official told The Hindu that the two-stage missile Nirbhay is able to pick out a target and attack it among multiple targets. The missile has a loitering capability, i.e., it can go round a target and perform several manoeuvres and then re-engage it. With two side wings, the missile is capable of flying at different altitudes ranging from 500 m to 4 km above the ground and can also fly at low altitudes (like low tree level) to avoid detection by enemy radar. It is capable of delivering 24 different types of warheads depending on mission requirements and uses an inertial navigation system for guidance. The missile supplements Brahmos by delivering warheads farther than the 290 km range of Brahmos.
Development and trials
The missile was developed by the Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), Hyderabad, a lab of Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE). ADE is a division of DRDO. After the design was finalized, the technology required for the missile was developed. It was integrated by R&D Engineers, Pune, a specialised arm of DRDO. Indian private sector giant Tata has built the vehicle that is the carrier/launcher for the Nirbhay system and is based on an "indigenous high mobility, all-terrain and all-wheel drive Tata LPTA 5252-12 X12 vehicle", developed in partnership with DRDO.
The first test flight of the missile was planned in October 2012, but the launch was postponed to December owing to the changes being made to the launcher. V.K. Saraswat, director general of DRDO, later said that the missile would be tested in February 2013. He said the delay was due to development of some processes. DRDO expected the missile to be ready for induction within 12 to 18 months after the February test.
The surface version of Nirbhay missile was test fired for the first time on 12 March 2013 from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Balasore district of Odisha. The missile in its maiden flight was supposed to hit a static target situated 1000 km away in the Bay of Bengal. Missile took off from the launch pad successfully and reached the second stage of propulsion, travelling 15 minutes through its envisaged path at a speed of 0.7 mach. After that it veered away from its trajectory forcing the command center to detach the engine from the missile mid way into the flight. This was done to avoid the risk of the missile hitting the coastal areas . The missile was purposely destroyed in mid-flight.
DRDO claimed the test was a partial success as the missile took off, reached the second stage of propulsion, and traveled 30% of its range before deviating from its path . Most of the mission objectives were claimed to have been completed .Reportedly,DRDO has detected the problem which was a faulty inertial navigation system,& corrected the same. The subsequent test of the missile was to be carried out in May 2014. DRDO expected the missile to enter into production after the year 2014, after few more trials against both static and moving targets. Test of submarine launched and air launched versions to be followed in due course of time.
A second launch of the Nirbhay missile was scheduled for February–May 2014 but it was further delayed until October 2014. Slight delay in October was also due to cyclone Hudhud. On 17 October 2014, the surface version of the missile was tested once again from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Balasore district of Odisha, and this time the test was absolutely successful. The missile test met all the parameters & completed all 15 way-points, it travelled for more than an hour and accurately hit the target. Four versions of Nirbhay land,ship,air and submarine would be developed and the first land attack cruise missile would be delivered in less than three years.
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