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India test fires new cruise missile engine

Nirbhay Missile during one of its test flight. (DRDO/Released)
August 14, 2021

Highlighting the importance of advanced cruise missiles and the value of self-reliance in developing them on the indigenous scale, India on Wednesday conducted a successful trial of cruise missile technology. The Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test-fired the medium range cruise missile Nirbhay-ITCM from launch-pad 3 at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Balaosore’s Chandipur.

The ITCM test was carried out using the mantle of the underdeveloped Nirbhay cruise missile platform. The missile uses a turbofan engine and is currently being tested using the “manic turbofan” engine, officials said. The technology will be used as the base for formulating different classes of cruise missiles and will help the DRDO evolve them for future projects, especially in hypersonic cruise configuration.

The engine is able to produce 400KG of thrust and is equipped with an advanced art digital control system. The engine system is also equipped with high-powered turbine blades and also with shrouded low-pressure blades.

The ITCM missile platform was primarily designed and developed by the Advanced Defence Establishment of DRDO located in Bengaluru in cooperation with other DRDO laboratories. The Nirbhay missile was India’s first indigenously developed cruise missile.

The weapon system has completed six developmental trials between 2012 and 2019 and was recently deployed following Chinese aggression along the line of actual control as a daunting element to deter the hostile activities by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops.

The test-launch of the Indigenous Technology Cruise Missile (ITCM) with a new GTRE 4.5kn class engine included a technology demonstration test for a new class of cruise missile technology developed by DRDO.

The test was declared satisfactory because the turbofan engine performed well during flight tests in all three phases. The ITCM flew for a very short range of 150km since the focus of the latest trial was to gauge the performance of the new engine and evaluate the stability and functionality of the new system under the nominal operational range.