A year after India’s own Tomahawk class cruise missile Nirbhay test failed, scientists are ready for the second trial by the end of this month. “We plan to launch Nirbhay by February end. It is a Tomahawk class missile but I will not disclose the range,” Avinash Chander, scientific advisor to the Defence Minister told Deccan Herald on the sidelines of the Indian Science Congress here. The long-range all weather subsonic cruise missile is India’s answer to the US Tomahawk, which was introduced first in the 1970 but underwent several modifications later. Used by the US Navy and Royal Navy, the missile reportedly has a range between 1,300 and 1,700 km. Nirbhay is understood to have a range of 1,000 km, though there is no official confirmation. Once ready, the Navy would be the first user of this missile. Asked the reasons for delay in the project, which is in the developmental phase for many years, Mr Chander said, “Nirbhay is a typical model of how we should not do project R&D. Earlier it was piecemeal work, but new thrust has been provided to this project.” The missiles maiden test in March failed as it deviated from its pre-determined path after a few minutes, threatening the east coast. Subsequently, scientists at the control room of Interim Test Range, Chandipur, had to terminate its course forcing the surface-hugging cruise missile to explode midair over Bay of Bengal. “Scientists have identified that inertial navigation system has malfunctioned and corrective design and modifications are being implemented,” Defence Minister Mr A K Antony informed Parliament in May. The director-general of Defence Research and Development Organisation also confirmed the existence of India’s second nuclear-powered submarine, which is under construction at a military dockyard in Visakhapatnam for several years now. “The first submarine (Arihant) took 18 years. We hope to have the second submarine, which is under development, in 12 years,” he said. The submarine launched ballistic missile (K-15) for Arihant is fully ready after several successful trials from underwater pontoons. When the Arihant goes for a sea trial shortly, it will carry the ballistic missile completing India’s nuclear triad or second-strike capability from the land, air and sea in case of a nuclear attack.
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