The Nirbhay is India’s first indigenously produced cruise missile. Aesthetically, the missile appears similar to the U.S. Tomahawk and the Russian Club SS-N-27 with its cylindrical fuselage. So far it is unclear whether the missile will be ground, sea, or air-launched, but its tests suggest at least a ground launched version and the DRDO is said to be working on a road-mobile truck platform. Other reports suggest the Nirbhay is due for deployment on submarines.1 The Nirbhay is believed to be 6.0 m in length, 0.5 m in diameter, and 1,500 to 1,600 kg in launch weight. The payload is believed to be around 450 kg of HE/submunitions, but a small nuclear warhead with a 12 kT yield is also possible.2

Nirbhay At a Glance

Originated From: India
Possessed By: India
Class: Subsonic Cruise Missile
Length: 6.0 m
Diameter: 0.5 m
Launch Weight: 1,500-1,6000 kg
Payload: 450 kg
Warhead: HE, submunitions, 12 kT nuclear potentially
Propulsion: Turbojet
Range: 800-1,000 km

The missile utilizes a solid propellant booster motor that is jettisoned shortly after launch, switching over to a turbojet engine with a cruise speed of 0.65 Mach and a reported range of 800-1,000 km.3 The missile is guided by INS/GPS with an active-radar terminal seeker and its accuracy could be improved both by the development of an indigenous Indian navigation satellite system4 and the potential of integrating the seeker from the BrahMos missile, which could be tested in December 2016.5

The first flight test of the Nirhbay in 2013 had to be aborted when the missile veered off course, but the second test in 2014 was successful to a range of 1,000 km.6 A 2015 test of the missile was terminated as a result of a malfunction in the guidance system.7 Another test of the Nirbhay is planned for sometime in 2016.8


  1. Franz-Stefan Gady, “India’s Deadliest Sub to Test-Fire Missiles,” The Diplomat, October 15, 2015, Accessed on
  2. James C. O’Halloran, “Nirbhay,” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic, (IHS; 2015). 139.
  3. James C. O’Halloran, “Nirbhay,” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic, (IHS; 2015). 139.
  4. Swarajya, “Why India’s Own Navigation Satellite System Will Be A Boost For Its Armed Forces, April 28, 2016, Accessed on
  5. Aditya Bhat, “Ghatak UCAV awaiting approval from PMO, Nirbhay missile test with BrahMos seeker planned,” International Business Times India, March 30, 2016, Accessed on
  6. Y, Mallikarjun, “India successfully test-fires cruise missile ‘Nirbhay’,” The Hindu, October 20, 2014, Accessed on
  7. Franz-Stefan Gady, “Revealed: India’s Deadly New Missile Fails Flight-Test,” The Diplomat, Accessed on
  8. Hemant Kumar Rout, “3rd-time unlucky Nirbhay to try luck once more,” the New Indian Express, May 11, 2016, Accessed on
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