Delhi: Indian defence scientists are developing a sub-sonic cruise missile,
which is expected to be in the same class as the latest versions of the US Tomahawk.
Dubbed Nirbhay (Fearless), the cruise missile will have a range that will be 300km
longer than the Pakistani cruise missile, Babur (also called Hatf VII).
will be the seventh class of missile to be developed by India after the Agni series,
the Prithvi series, Brahmos (in a joint venture with Russia), Akash, Trishul and
Nag. Avinash Chander, director of the Advanced Systems Laboratory, Hyderabad,
and project in charge, revealed this to the national daily, The Telegraph.
to Chander, Nirbhay is being developed alongside Astra, an air-to-air missile
designed to hit targets beyond visual range.
Nirbhay will carry an onboard
terrain-identification system that will map its course and relay the information
to its guidance and propulsion systems. "Every modern military needs to have
missile options. The requirement for Nirbhay was projected by all three armed
forces to fill a gap in our missile programme," said Chander.
will be a terrain-hugging missile, in the range of 1,000km, and capable of avoiding
detection by ground-based radar. It would have. "We have Brahmos, which is
a supersonic cruise missile and the need was felt for a subsonic cruise missile
that will be capable of being launched from multiple platforms in land, air and
sea," Chander said.
Nirbhay''s development schedule will see a technology
demonstrator being tested in early 2009. According to Chander, system design was
complete and "hardware preparations are on."
also revealed that Nirbhay would weigh around 1,000kg and travel at 0.7 mach (nearly
840kmph). It would be capable of delivering 24 different types of warheads. For
reference, various versions of the Pakistani subsonic cruise missile Babur have
ranges varying between 500 to 700km. The US Tomahawk too has many versions, the
latest of which has a range in excess of 1,500km.