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Cruise control: India accelerates development of tactical missiles

India's Nirbhay cruise missile, displayed above at Defexpo 2020 in Lucknow, will be equipped with small turbofan engines, enhanced radio frequency seekers, and other subsystems to transform it into the proposed Long-Range Land Attack Cruise Missile. (Janes/Rahul Udoshi )

India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) recently conducted a flight test of its Indigenous Technology Cruise Missile (ITCM) from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur off the northeastern coast of Odisha.

The ITCM is a technology demonstrator programme to validate the capability of its indigenously developed small turbofan engines (STFEs) – also known as Manik engines – upgraded radio frequency (RF) seekers, and other subsystems. The ITCM is based on the Nirbhay cruise missile, which is also powered by STFEs. The developer of the STFE is the DRDO's Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE).

A DRDO official told Janes on 3 March that the ITCM test, which took place in mid-February, was successful in demonstrating the capabilities of the STFE. β€œThe ITCM was tested three times before this test, resulting in partial success. The last test in October 2022 was aborted due to technical issues. However, the [most recent] test validated the ability of [the] STFE,” he said.

The official added that the successful test of the STFE has cleared the way to integrate the engine into the Long-Range Land Attack Cruise Missile (LRLACM), which is under development. β€œThe LRLACM is a replacement for the Nirbhay missile and will be developed for all land, air, and marine formations,” he said.

β€œ[However], before a rocket engine is actually put to use in the [LRLACM] missile, it has to be tested with a special flight test vehicle like [the] ITCM,” the DRDO official added.

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