NEW DELHI — The flight test of India’s homemade 1000-kilometer-range cruise missile failed Monday following technical problems.
Nirbhay — an intermediate-range subsonic land-attack cruise missile with terrain hugging — is an Indian version of the American Tomahawk and the Russian Club SS-N-27 cruise missiles.
Defense scientists in India said the test failed within 8 minutes of the launch due to technical issues in the engine. They gave no further details.
The Nirbhay missile is currently powered by the Russian Saturn 50MT turbofan engine. Its local development began in 2007 with the Defence Research and Development Organisation.
A senior DRDO scientist said Nirbhay is a stealthy missile capable of delivering different warheads and is capable of loitering and attacking multiple targets.
“The cruise missiles like Tomahawk and Nirbhay (when successful) do not follow a ballistic parabola but are terrain-hugging in their path. Therefore, they are more difficult to detect by conventional radars. And hence more lethal and thus required by Indian Armed Forces,” an Army official said.
Weighing 1,500 kilograms with a height of 6 meters and a speed of Mach 0.7 Mach, the missile can carry up to 300 kilograms of conventional and nuclear warheads.
Nirbhay is a two-stage missile. Its solid-fuel rocket motor serves as its first stage and accelerates the missile after launch to cruise speed, when a turbojet engine in the second stage takes over.
It is equipped with a domestically made ring laser gyroscope inertial navigation system, a GPS-enabled guidance system and a Russian seeker system.
In July, the Ministry of Defence’s procurement body moved to purchase about 300 Nirbhay cruise missiles for the three armed forces.
At least 20 more tests will occur before the missiles are inducted, another DRDO scientist said, which could take three to five years.
The weapon is manufactured by the state-owned firm Bharat Dynamics Limited, and each Nirbhay missile system will cost about $1.5 million.
Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.