According to report prepared by Defence Analysts Shiv Aroor, Indian Air Force and Government of India have stuck an understanding with India’s State-owned DRDO to begin the ground process to develop an Air Launched Variant based on India’s first Sub-Sonic Nirbhay cruise missile within next two years.

Dubbed Nirbhay-A, Air launched variant will be similar to ground-based variant minus the Booster motor and few changes made to fins and wings to operate without any hiccups when launched from a Sukhoi-30MKI aircraft .

Sucess of BrahMos-A has given IAF, HAL and DRDO enough confidence to develop a similar Air-launched Weapon at a lower cost which can be adapted to all Sukhoi-30 fleet without requiring any modification. Special pylon developed for BrahMos-A Program will be used to fire Nirbhay-A without modification to the pylon enabling it to be used as dual-launcher for both the Air launched missile system.

DRDO has agreed to ramp up the developmental timeline of Nirbhay-A and make the first prototype available for free fall trials from 2021 before actual trial begins. DRDO also has confirmed that GTRE developed Manik Turbofan engine currently undergoing trials will be ready in next two years to be used on Nirbhay Cruise missile replacing Russian supplied NPO Saturn 36MT turbofan which was used in first 5 trials only to be replaced with PTAE-7 turbojet engine from DRDO’s Lakshya remotely piloted high-speed target drone system in the last trial .

DRDO and IAF are also keen on developing a Smaller Sub-sonic Air-launched Cruise missile with the range up to 500km so that it can be adapted to any aircraft in service with Indian Air force. Indian Navy too is keen on joining the Nirbhay program and have already discussed with DRDO on the possible development of Naval Variant of Nirbhay in future.

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