India’s state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully flight-tested the indigenously designed Nirbhay (Fearless) subsonic cruise missile on 7 November, almost a year after the weapon failed its previous flight test.
The Indian government’s Press Information Bureau (PIB) said in a statement that the 6 m-long, nuclear-capable, land-attack missile, which was test-fired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur on the country’s east coast, cruised for 50 minutes, achieving a distance of 647 km.
“The flight test achieved all the mission objectives completely from lift-off till the final splash, boosting the confidence of all scientists associated with the trial,” said the PIB, pointing out that the missile was tracked using ground-based radars, with other parameters being monitored by indigenous telemetry stations developed by DRDO.
Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman hailed the move, expressing optimism that the successful trial will enable India to join a select group of nations capable of fielding “this complex technology and subsonic cruise missile capability”.
The success comes after the fourth test-flight of the DRDO-designed missile was terminated on 21 December within four minutes of take-off.
Fired from a specially designed mobile launcher, Nirbhay’s on-board flight control software malfunctioned shortly after lift-off, official sources told Jane’s at the time. This diverted the missile from its intended flight path, leaving its designers little choice but to abort the flight and destroy the missile over the Bay of Bengal.
The Nirbhay has a diameter of 0.52 m and is fitted with two tapering-chord fold-out (backwards) wings with a span of 2.7 m. The one-tonne missile is brought up to the takeover speed of its turbofan engine by a jettisonable solid propellant booster. The missile cruises at a speed of 270–305 m/s, and its maximum strike range is claimed to be 1,000 km.
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