India has successfully conducted a test-launch of a nuclear-capable cruise missile that has a range of over 620 miles.
The Nirbhay subsonic cruise missile is India’s first long-range missile to be built and designed inside the country. India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) claims that the missile launch was a massive success and that the missile will fill a critical role within India’s defensive capabilities.
“The missile maintained an accuracy better than 10 metres throughout its path and covered more than 1000 kms,” said Avinash Chander, the scientific advisor of the DRDO, in a press release after the launch. “The successful indigenous development of the Nirbhay cruise missile will fill a vital gap in the war-fighting capabilities of our armed forces.”
According to NDTV, the Nirbhay will function as India’s answer to America’s Tomahawk and Pakistan’s Babur missiles. With a range of up to 1,000 km (620 miles), and a capability to carry nuclear warheads, the missile could be used by India as a deterrent against its nuclear-armed rival Pakistan.
The Nirbhay can be launched from multiple platforms, and different variants are expected to be adopted by India’s Navy, Army, and Air Force. The Nirbhay is expected to replace India’s previous cruise missile, the Brahmos, which was co-developed with Russia.
India’s development of a long-range, nuclear-capable cruise missile comes within the context of ongoing tensions along the country’s various disputed borders. India and Pakistan have exchanged artillery fire over the disputed region of Kashmir this month, leading to tens of thousands of residents being evacuated and India threatening further measures against its northern neighbour.
India is also likely worried about Chinese attempts to move into disputed territory in the Himilayas. China, meanwhile, is developing its own advanced missile capabilities, including boost-glide supersonic weapons and ballistic missiles capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads.
The Nirbhay is just the latest piece of evidence that India is serious about keeping pace with its regional rivals — last year, the country was the largest arms-importer in the world.
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