India is getting ready to test indigenously developed subsonic cruise missile 'Nirbhay' (Fearless) on Thursday. Nirbhay is an all-weather long-range missile than can carry heavier payload than the BrahMos.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will be testing the missile for the third time from its Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Balasore, Odisha. Though the first test of the missile was only partially successful, the second one met all the mission objectives.
The 1,000 km-class missile is capable of carrying high explosives and small nuclear warheads. The current test module will be a land version and DRDO will be using a road-mobile launcher.
Nirbhay bears a striking physical resemblance to the famous American Tomahawk and the Russian Kh-55 cruise missiles. The two-stage missile, which is fired vertically, goes into horizontal flight after taking a 90 degree turn. It uses inertial navigation system for guidance. It has loitering capability, which enables it to hover around the target and then re-enter to hit the target when commanded. It can fly at low altitudes to evade enemy radars.
DRDO also plans to develop naval and air versions of the missile, to be used by the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force.
The missile has been developed by DRDO's Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) in Bengaluru. "It will take us a couple of more tests before Nirbhay gets operational clearance," a top DRDO source told Indian Express.
Nirbhay is expected to be inducted in to the Army by 2016. The missile will supplement the supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, product of an Indo-Russian collaboration that has a range of about 290km.
Pakistan, India's neighbour and rival, already has two cruise missiles – Babur (700 km range) and the more recent, Ra'ad (250 km range).