Lucknow: A new home-grown, subsonic missile will be homing on to its target adding might to the Indian Navy by mid of 2023.
A top military source tells Onmanorama at the DefExpo2020 that the new weapon will be named Long Range Land Attack Cruise Missile (LRLACM). It will have a range in excess of 1,000 km and will be launched from a UVLM (Universal Vertical Launcher Module) of BrahMos. The unique UVLMs in operation is designed, developed and patented by BrahMos Aerospace.
These BrahMos UVLMs are already operational on 30 ships of Indian Navy and the new missile will sit inside the same launcher.
The missile is the result of a naval requirement projected to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The sanction for the project is expected in two months and the first trials of the missile could begin in early 2023.
The missile project has been designated to Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE ), a Bengaluru-based DRDO lab developing unmanned systems.
ADE has the expertise of developing India’s first home-grown subsonic cruise missile, Nirbhay.
Around 20 developmental flights are being planned of the LRLACM, tipped to be developed with completely indigenous systems. Barring small sensors and accelerometers every component on this missile will be of indigenous class.
The terminal homing featured will be aided by a desi radio frequency(RF) seeker. Similar to Nirbhay, LRLACM too will be capable of flying at low altitude with sea-skimming capabilities.
At DefExpo2020, a video is being played out showing the sea-skimming capabilities of Nirbhay during its last launch.
The missile’s journey has been captured by a chase aircraft and also through Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS).
During a visit to DRDO’s exhibition area, the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh on Wednesday expressed his desire to get the new missile delivered at the earliest.
Once DRDO completes the trial phase of the new missile, the Indian Navy is keen to place an order on development cum production partner (DCPP). An order worth Rs 5,000 crore for 200 LRLACMs will be placed on the DCPP by Indian Navy.
Nirbhay’s new avatar
Interestingly, the Nirbhay project, which completed six developmental trials from March 2013 to April 2019, has been technically closed.
The project has taken a new desi avatar with a renewed outlook and will be now known as the Indigenous Technology Cruise Missile (ITCM). The Indian power plant for ITCM – the Short Turbo Fan Engine (STFE) – is developed by Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) in Bengaluru.
The first launch of ITCM will be with STFE and it will have an RF seeker developed by RCI, Hyderabad. The trial is expected to be conducted in April this year.
The air variant of ITCM too is taking shape at ADE in addition to a submarine variant as well.
DRDO is aiming to attain complete self-reliance for its missile programmes. Efforts are afoot to cut the delays during the development phase and LRLACM and ITCM are among the batch of weapons cruising through the new thought process.
(The writer is an independent aerospace and defence journalist, who blogs at Tarmak007 and tweets @writetake.)