India's first indigenously designed and developed long range sub-sonic cruise missile ‘Nirbhay’ was successfully flight tested on Friday from the Integrated Test Range (ITR), Balasore, Odisha.
The entire mission, from lift-off till the final splash down was a perfect flight achieving all the mission objectives.
The cruise missile Nirbhay, powered by a solid rocket motor booster developed by the Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) took off majestically from a mobile launcher specifically designed for ‘Nirbhay’ by the Vehicles R&D Establishment, (VRDE).
As it achieved designated altitude and velocity, the booster motor got separated, the turbofan engine automatically switched on taking over the further propulsion and the wings opened up by the commands generated by the onboard computer (OBC) stabilising the flight. Guided by a highly advanced inertial navigation system indigenously developed by Research Centre Imarat (RCI) the ‘Nirbhay’ continued its flight that lasted a little over one hour and 10 minutes.
Throughout its path, the missile was tracked with the help of ground based radars and it's health parameters were monitored by indigenous telemetry stations by a team of professionals from DRDO's ITR and LRDE (Electronics & Radar Development Establishment). Additionally, the performance of ‘Nirbhay’ was closely watched by an Indian Air Force aircraft.
Dr Avinash Chander, Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister, DG DRDO speaking after the completion of the mission, said "the missile maintained an accuracy better than 10 meters throughout its path and covered a distance of more than 1000 km."
“The successful indigenous development of ‘Nirbhay’ cruise missile will fill a vital gap in the war fighting capabilities of our armed forces" he added.
This was the second launch of ‘Nirbhay’ cruise missile. The maiden launch last year in March 12, was a partial success.
The maiden flight had to be terminated for safety reasons due to malfunction of a component, after deviation from intended path was observed. Earlier, the launch preparations and plans were authorised after thorough review by experts.
P. Srikumar Director ADE, as the mission director led the launch operations. The launch preparations were planned and supervised by Vasanth Sastri Project Director of 'Nirbhay'.
''The mission proved to be more than successful and the missile performed far better than our expectations'', Avinash Chander said.
''we hope to deliver the missile to the armed forces within three years,'' the DRDO Chief announced.
Nirbhay is said to be India’s answer to America's Tomahawk and Pakistan’s Babur missile.
In the cruise missile category, India has Brahmos in its arsenal which is a supersonic missile having 290 km of range. Brahmos was being developed by India and Russia under a joint venture.
Sources said after blasting off from launch pad, the two-stage Nirbhay took a unique trajectory in its entire path to the target. The booster engine catapulted the missile vertically to a height of around 800 metres and then it jettisoned the first engine and turned horizontally to cruise like a fighter jet with a speed of about 750 kmph.
Being a terrain hugging missile, Nirbhay is difficult to detect by the enemy's radars.
The missile keeps on encircling the area of its target for several minutes and then hits the 'bull's eye' on an opportune time, said a scientist.
Capable of carrying multiple payloads, the missile can engage several targets in a single flight.
This lethal weapon may be launched from various kinds of platforms, ranging from surface lorry to a ship, from air and even from underwater vessels.
The two-stage missile is first thrown vertically by using a booster engine and in the next stage, second engine takes it to the target.
The second engine used in the missile is very similar to turbo jet engine of an aircraft.