India will test Nirbhay cruise missile with indigenous propulsion system

DRDO Nirbhay Cruise Missile

The Indian Ministry of Defense’s (MoD’s) Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) will test fire a nuclear-capable Nirbhay Long Range Land Attack Cruise Missile (LRLACM) fitted with an indigenous propulsion system in April 2020, according to an Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) official who spoke to IHS Jane’s during the Defexpo 2020 exhibition in Lucknow, northern India.

Nirbhay is India’s first indigenously designed and developed long-range cruise missile. 

The indigenous Small Turbo Fan Engine (STFE) is under development by DRDO’s Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE). The new engine along with a new radio frequency seeker is expected to be tested during two developmental trials in April, with a live firing slated to take place in January or February 2021.

The Nirbhay is a subsonic LRLACM that can be armed with a 200-300-kilogram warhead. The nuclear-capable, solid fuel missile can reportedly reach top speeds of 0.6-0.7 Mach and can strike land targets at a distance of up to 1,000 kilometers. It can be launched from multiple platforms — the first test of the air-launched variant is expected to take place in 2021. The Nirbhay reportedly has loitering capability.

The ship-launched version of the Nirbhay could be inducted into service by as early as 2023, according to the ADE official. A test of a submarine-launched variant of the Nirbhay from a submerged platform may take place by  the end of 2020, the official added, with an actual test launch set to occur in 2021. 

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