Representation Image

Dr. Tessy Thomas, Director General (Aeronautical Systems), DRDO speaking to Dr. Anantha Krishnan of Tarmak media said that the Indigenous Technology Cruise Missile (ITCM) is just a Technological demonstrator program for the testing and validating the Manik Engine / Small Turbo Fan Engine (STFE) in a way ending speculation that the subsonic cruise missile program is an active missile program that will eventually enter production.

India’s troubled Nirbhay Cruise missile entered service in limited number after facing years of delays in the developmental trials phase where the missile had a high rate of failures and had received two program extensions before it was closed. Later it was revealed that ITCM is a successor to the Nirbhay program that will further increase and validate indigenous content in the missile system including its 4.25 kN thrust turbofan engine that has been under trial. But is now clear ITCM is just a Testbed program that is using Nirbhay airframes to test and validate the STFE engine that was planned for the sub-sonic flight of the missile and the missile will not enter production.

4.25 kN thrust turbofan engine eventually will find its way into LRLACM (Long-Range Land Attack Cruise Missile ) program that DRDO is developing. LRLACM (Long-Range Land Attack Cruise Missile ) will have a range of over 1,000 km and can be launched from the same launcher that is used by the BrahMos missiles that are installed on over 30 Naval Warships. LRLACM will take off with help of a booster stage and in the second stage will be powered by an STFE engine for its sub-sonic flight for its maximum range but in the third stage ramjet propulsion will kick in for the last-mile supersonic sprint at the terminal stage making it harder for air defense systems to intercept it.

The naval variant of LRLACM will have an extended range of 1500km and the Air-Launched variant and Surface to Surface variants will have over 1000km range. LRLACM will have a subsonic and supersonic flight regime thus can’t be called derivate of the Nirbhay cruise missiles that had only a subsonic regime during its entire duration of the flight. But State-owned HAL with Private Player Newspace Research & Technologies is also developing CATS Hunter, a low observable Air-Launched sub-sonic cruise missile powered by a single HAL PTAE-7 turbojet engine that will have a range of 300-500km.

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