Saturday, July 21, 2007

Fearless Tomahawk-type missile on radar

I had mentioned Project Nirbhay a couple of times before, but didn't get around to actually doing a post on it here, but Sujan Dutta, my colleague on the defence beat (The Telegraph) had this front-pager yesterday. The Nirbhay programme, incidentally was conceived initially as an Indo-Israeli drawing board experiment to demonstrate an intermediate-range cruise vehicle, but Israeli help, it was subsequently decided, would be dropped entirely. Now, Nirbhay is a fully Indian programme, with Israel playing a much smaller technical advisory role. The photo to the right is taken from a DRDO Project Nirbhay powerpoint presentation, though the missile in the picture definitely looks like a Tomahawk (the Nirbhay will of course be physically similar). Anyway, here's Project Nirbhay for you, and the article in full:

Fearless Tomahawk-type missile on radar


New Delhi, July 19: Indian defence scientists have taken up a new cruise missile development programme. The missile named Nirbhay (The Fearless) is in the same class as the US’s Tomahawk and will have a range that is 300km longer than Pakistan’s Babur.

Nirbhay is India’s seventh missile development project after the Agni series, the Prithvi series, Brahmos (in a joint venture with Russia), Akash, Trishul and Nag. The last three were part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme founded by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Nirbhay is being developed alongside Astra, an air-to-air missile designed to hit targets beyond visual range.

A cruise missile can be guided to a target. A ballistic missile is fired at a pre-determined target. Nirbhay will carry onboard a 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,” Avinash Chander, the director of the Advanced Systems Laboratory, Hyderabad, who is in charge of the project, told The Telegraph in Delhi today. Nirbhay will be a terrain-hugging missile capable of avoiding detection by ground-based radar. It would have a range of 1,000km.

“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.

In the schedule drawn up for Nirbhay, a technology demonstrator is slotted for early 2009. Chander said the design for the system is complete and “hardware preparations are on”. He said Nirbhay would weigh around 1,000kg and travel at 0.7 mach (nearly 840kmph) and would be capable of delivering 24 different types of warheads. The Pakistani subsonic cruise missile Babur (also called Hatf VII) has ranges of 500 to 700km. The US’s Tomahawk has many versions, the latest of which has ranges in excess of 1,500km.


Anonymous said...

these drdo fellows really have some nerve. a prototype test by 2009?? where the hell are they getting the cruise missile engine from? hmm. gtre? bloody hell.

Anonymous said...

Shiv what happened. I thought i would be reading abt Nirbhaya from your blog first.I expect from you a special report on Nirbhaya for your blog readers as promised :-). Will you ?


Abhiman said...

Mr. Aroor, this effort by the DRDO is extremely laudable, and unfortunately hardly reported in the Indian media.

The most important part as mentioned by anonymous, would be the turbofan (or turbojet) engine for the same.

However, in my view, as DRDO is under criticism nowadays, it may concentrate more on the PAD anti-ballistic missile system, which will render the Pakistani missiles Hatf-I through Hatf-VI ineffective against India. The Trishul can be used against Babar
cruise missile and Harpoon.

Mr. Aroor, on another topic, I may kindly request you to try to find about the status of the "promised" user-trials of the Trishul and Akash missiles respectively.

Thank you.

Mihir said...

A Tomahawk-type crooz missile eh? Wasn't there some news about India buying engines for such a missile (it was reported to be the Lakshya)?

Anonymous said...

Would'nt it be more practical to increase the range of the Brahmos cruise missle rather than start all out on a brand new sub-sonic cruise missle? Unless there are some advantages to a sub-sonic cruise missle compared to a supersonic one.

Shiv Aroor said...

mihir: yes, 200 NPO Saturn miniature turbojets for the Lakshya. They begin deliveries this year.

Mihir said...

I believe subsonic missiles have greater range. If I remember my thermodynamics correctly, ramjets guzzle fuel like you wouldn't believe. Plus, a Tomahawk-type missile can fly a true "terrain-hugging" profile. I don't think the Brahmos can do that.

Mihir said...

Is there any reason to suspect that these would be used on the Nirbhay? Or are they for the Lakshya alone?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification Mihir.

Sujan Dutta said...

Hi Shiv/readers,

Thanks Shiv for telling me about the comments. Here's what I can add -- based completely on what Avinash Chander (the man in-charge) -- said:

1) Work on the Nirbhay began earlier this year

2) It is a completely indigenous effort

3) Yes, Chander's team is also working on the turbofan engine

4) All three services projected the requirement for the missile

5) He did not expect the Nirbhay will take "a lot of tests" after the technology-demonstrator is fired.


Anonymous said...

Conceptual work on Nirbhay began much before this year - lof of fundamental drawingboard work was happening at NAL. Probably ASL got funding sanction begining of this year "formally".

A part of the work was already outsourced to L&T - to comeup with a reliable mechanism for "unfolding the wings" when the missile has cleared the canister. The dimensions of the wing (span, chord) and also dia of the missile will be fairly close to T'hawk specs.

Anonymous said...

Avinash Chander is the biggest fraud

vasu72 said...

great news for Indians

Anonymous said...

One need'nt brand anyone with a particular tag without going into details and stretegic requirements which can be seen only if we see the defence requirements holistically. Hence rightly there has been a requirement of a subsonic missile with a longer range which cannot presently be taken on by Brahmos. So let give this new potential a pat on the back to deliver on schedule.

Anonymous said...

Anon, yes AC is a fraud. That !@#$% led the Agni-3 team and had it deliver a working product. What a bad dude.

Anonymous said...

Nirbhay has existed for several years least two. ADE and IISc have worked on it for the past couple of years. Like the previous anon said, its probably that full scale funding has been sought now to develop a functional operational CM.