Aero India 2019: India’s Nirbhay cruise missile to make final developmental flight in April

21 February 2019

Scale model of the ground-launched Nirbhay cruise missile as displayed at Aero India 2019. Source: IHS Markit/Rahul Udoshi

The Nirbhay cruise missile developed by India’s Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) is set to make its final developmental trial in April, more than a year after the weapon successfully completed its previous flight test, an ADE official told Jane’s during the 20–24 February Aero India 2019 exhibition in Bangalore.

The official said that all issues related to the missile’s control hardware and software have been resolved, and that preparations are under way for a low-altitude flight test, which is expected to be its final developmental trial. The official declined to provide specific details on the rectified issues.

The 6 m-long, nuclear-capable, land-attack 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.

The ADE official said that the missile programme is on track and expressed optimism that the weapon will soon be moving into the production-standard configuration, followed by the operational testing phase. He added that once the technology behind the missile is certified, there is a proposal to develop an air-launched variant of the Nirbhay within two to three years.

The intended air-launched variant would be developed to be fired from Su-30MKI multirole fighter aircraft, each of which would carry a maximum of two missiles.

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