The stage is set for the test-firing of India’s long-range (800 km) subsonic missile ‘Nirbhay’ (Fearless) on Friday from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) here.
This will be the second flight trial of the country’s first long-range subsonic cruise missile, as its maiden experiment was terminated midway after it deviated from the trajectory in March last year.
The range of the missile, which can carry both nuclear and conventional warheads, can be extended up to 1,000 km. Meanwhile, missile technologists from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) completed pre-launch checks and range integration with Nirbhay on Thursday. They also fuelled the missile and charged the battery, besides carrying out helicopter sorties to check the effectiveness of a network of radars, telemetry stations and electro-optical tracking systems.
People living within the radius of 1 km of the ITR have been advised to remain indoors till the completion of the launch window time on Friday. After taking off, the missile’s first stage booster will get separated, and it will fly like aircraft with wings getting deployed. Also, the turbo prop engine will be ignited to give thrust to the missile, as it cruises at a speed of 0.7 mach. The low-altitude-flying Nirbhay has high manoeuvring capability and will follow various pre-commanded way points during the development trial on Friday.
A unique feature of Nirbhay is that it can search its targets after the launch and take them out. A DRDO official said Nirbhay would make significant addition to India’s strategic deterrence capability. DRDO is also planning to develop land, air, ship and underwater variants of the missile, he added.