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SOURCE: MANJUNATH REDDDY/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

India’s indigenously developed Nirbhay subsonic cruise missile will be tested in coming days this week for the fifth time. Since the last test conducted nearly a year ago in last December had to be aborted just two minutes into flight after it veered outside its safety corridor leading to the remote self-destruction by the team on the spot. fresh trials will be seen as a make or break moment for the Nirbhay Project.

Nirbhay in its four trial flights only once achieved near 1000 km flight coverage while in three trials it crashed within few minutes into its flight. Development of subsonic cruise missile is critical weapons system required to provide crucial low-cost precision firepower and to substitute expensive supersonic BrahMos cruise missile system already inducted into Indian Armed Force.

Nirbhay Project already is on 18 months extension program which expires in June 2018. Nirbhay Team has faced several criticisms over this years due to lack of coordination between various agencies which are involved in the development of the missile system.

This week trial is quite crucial to the Nirbhay Project since various voices within Ministry of Defence have been urging that the project is scrapped due to delays and constant failures in past 3 trials. Ministry of Defence also carried out external Technical project assessment to find out if various agencies involved with the project have come up with reliable systems for the missile to make it successful in future trials.

While DRDO is confident that all issues which lead to past failures have been fixed successfully and is sure that future trials will achieve mission objectives, reports also doing round is that Russia has offered India export variant of its Kalibr long-range cruise-missile.Kalibr cruise-missile comes in variable launch platforms and can be used to take down land and sea-based target.

Indian Army desperately requires low-cost subsonic cruise missile in its arsenal which can be used to attack low priority targets where use of expensive BrahMos could not be justifiable, Nirbhay also plays key role in India’s Cold Start Doctrine which requires use of Superior conventional firepower to neutralize defensive forces of Pakistan in short notice to achieve certain mission objective.

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