What is Nirbhay Missile?
On Tuesday, India successfully conducted a flight test of its state-of-the-art sleek cruise missile ‘Nirbhay’, which is capable of carrying warheads of up to 300 kg. The indigenously designed and developed long-range sub-sonic cruise missile was launched from a test range at Chandipur along the Odisha coast. Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) sources told PTI that the missile was launched from a specially designed launcher from the launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur in Odisha’s Balasore. This was the fifth experimental test of the homegrown missile system. This is a big feat for India because out of the four earlier trials ever since its debut launch in 2013, only one was successful.
How does it function?
‘Nirbhay’, a two-stage missile, is 6-metre long, 0.52 metre wide and with a wingspan of 2.7 metre. It can carry the designated warhead at a speed of 0.6 -0.7 Mach. Its launch weight is about 1500 kg.
With an operational range of 1,000 km, the missile is fueled by a solid rocket motor booster developed by the Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL). The missile is guided by a highly-advanced inertial navigation system which is also indigenously designed and developed by the Research Centre Imarat (RCI), DRDO sources had told PTI. ‘Nirbhay’ missile can travel with a turbofan or turbojet engine. The way it functions is this: Soon after the cruise missile is able to achieve its designated altitude and velocity, the booster motor is separated and the engine automatically switches on taking further propulsion.
A DRDO scientist associated with the project told PTI that ‘mid-way in its flight, the missile’s wing opens up by commands generated by the high-tech on-board computer for stabilising the flight path’. There are ground-based radars and IAF aircraft that help track the missile’s trajectories from lift off to splash down.
What happened during earlier test flights?
The maiden test flight of ‘Nirbhay’ held on March 12, 2013 had to be terminated midway for safety reasons due to malfunction of a component. However, the second launch on October 17, 2014 was successful, he said. In the next trial conducted on October 16, 2015, the missile deviated from its path after covering 128 km. The last test flight held on December 21, 2016 had to be aborted after 700 seconds of its test flight as it deviated from its designated path. All these trials were conducted from the same base at Chandipur ITR.
Three Pune labs contributed significantly for crucial parts of Nirbhay missile
Three Pune laboratories of the DRDO played a significant role for crucial parts like initial booster, warhead and the launcher for Nirbhay missile. Pune-based High Energy Material Research Laboratory (HEMRL) has contributed for the initial booster system that launches the missile. Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) helped in developing the warhead of the missile and its special launcher was designed and developed by the Research and Development Establishment (Engineers), R&DE(E) at Dighi in Pune.
(With PTI inputs)