Balasore, Oct 17: India today successfully test-fired its potent nuclear-capable cruise missile 'Nirbhay', a state-of-the-art missile developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
The crucial test was conducted from the Integrated Missile Test Range in Balasore, Odisha, despite the coastal region of the state being hit hard by Cyclone Hudhud.
Nirbhay (which means fearless) is very manoeuvrable and can fly at tree-top level, making it difficult to detect on radar, and strikes targets more than 700 km away carrying nuclear warheads, giving India the capability to strike deep into enemy territory.
Very soon when India's own satellite navigation fleet is fully deployed, Indian cruise missiles will start using signals from the Indian space system giving the country that extra edge.
Unlike other ballistic missiles like the Agni, Nirbhay has a wing and pronounced tail fins. It launches like a missile and in early flight the small wings get deployed. It then flies like an aircraft and can even hover near the target, striking at will from any direction.
On its maiden flight on March 12, last year, Nirbhay had to be terminated, when the missile deviated from its course about 20 minutes after launch. As the missile went off its flight trajectory, its engine was cut off to bring it down to ensure coastal safety. It fell near the coast; the DRDO said no one was injured.
The Nirbhay is a sub-sonic cruise missile and gives India the capacity to launch different kinds of payloads at different ranges from various platforms at a very low cost. It can be launched from a mobile launcher. The missile has a fire-and-forget system that cannot be jammed.
India has had the capability to make ballistic missiles for some time now and has made tactical missiles of different capacity. But it had not mastered a cruise missile yet and DRDO scientists worked very hard on the Nirbhay.
The US had deployed cruise missiles very effectively during the Gulf War.
The Nirbhay is India's answer to America's Tomahawk and Pakistan's Babur.