Nirbhay, India's first home-grown subsonic cruise missile, is all set for its launch from Interim Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur (Near Balasore in Orissa) on Friday, Oct 17.
This is Nirbhay's second launch, the first being terminated mid-way on 12 March 2013 owing to a technical snag. Nirbhay, with an expected strike range of 800-1000 km, is the first missile being made completely in Bangalore.
The missile was nurtured at the Defence Research and Development Organisation's (DRDO) premier laboratory Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) in Bangalore's C V Raman Nagar, an area infested with defence units.
As this story goes live on OneIndia, top military sources confirm that the Flight Authorization Board (FAB) was holding a marathon meeting at ITR ahead of the launch.
"The FAB meeting is on and we hope to have the missile ready for the launch by 10 am tomorrow, subject to last-minute changes. The timings need not be final as it would depend on a series last-minute checks, including weather," a top missile scientist told OneIndia.
India has developed all its missiles at DRDO's Missile Complex in Hyderabad and Nirbhay is the first Made-in-Bangalore-missile. ADE was granted the project owing to its expertise in developing unmanned aerial platforms such as Lakshya, Nishant and Rustom.
"During the maiden launch, we had the data going wrong for 500-600 milli seconds. In tomorrow's flight we are using an Inertial Navigation System (INS) which has been proven on other platforms as well. We have built redundant systems on Nirbhay now and have planned the end game near the range. As per our current script, the missile will travel a distance of 300 km and return to loiter around 100-150 km closer to the range," another senior scientist told OneIndia.
Dr K Tamilmani, Director-General (Aeronautical Systems), DRDO, told OneIndia that following the success of Nirbhay, the scientists will work on a higher version of the missile. "Right now we are ready with an excellent weapon with great loitering capabilities. With reduced weight and some fine-tuning, Nirbhay will be become a smarter weapon in the future," Dr Tamilmani said, during a brief interaction at ADE, recently.
Type: Two-stage subsonic cruise missile
Range: 800-1000 km
Length: 6 meters
Diameter: 0.52 m
Wing span: 2.7 m
Weight: Approx 1,500 kg
Speed: 0.7 Mach
Abilities: Multiple manoeuvres, loitering features
Cost: Around Rs 10 core per missile
Developed by: ADE Bangalore
(The writer is a senior aerospace and defence journalist anchoring India's leading military blog, Tarmak007. He is a Consulting Editor with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake)