New 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).
Nirbhay 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.
According to Chander, Nirbhay is being developed
alongside Astra, an air-to-air missile designed to hit targets beyond visual range.
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.