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13 Things That Make Nirbhay Cruise Missile Better Than Pakistani Babur And American Tomahawk

Published on 8 November, 2017 at 8:10 pm By

It is true that India’s indigenous defense manufacturing capability needs to cover a lot of ground before the nation becomes a powerful weapons exporting hub but there is one area where we dominate – the missiles. India is one of the most competent missile-manufacturing countries in the world. We have manufactured some of the world’s deadliest missiles under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), which can be called one the nation’s most successful defense manufacturing project to date.


We now have the Prithvi-, Agni-, Trishul-, Akash- and Nag-series of missiles some of which are nuclear capable, and one of them is an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). And then there are scores of excellent air-to-air, surface-to-air, ship- and submarine-launched missiles in India’s arsenal.


The Agni 4 missile.

In fact, India is one of the four countries with the distinction of having a nuclear triad – a defense system where a military power has the capability to carry out nuclear strikes from land, sea and air all because of the country’s robust missile defense program.

And galloping to a far more powerful future, India, finally, succeeded in a major test of the Nirbhay long-range subsonic cruise missile.

The most important thing is that India succeeded in its fifth attempt. The previous four had failed.


Though Nirbhay was talked about previously, it is only now that we can actually celebrate this missile.

So why is this missile so integral to India’s defense and what makes it different from others?

1. Nirbhay is India’s first nuclear-capable cruise missile and is an answer to Pakistan’s Babur.

The Pakistani missile, too, is a subsonic one made with help from Chinese and Americans.


The missile being fired on Tuesday. Twitter

2. While Babur has a maximum range of 750 km, Nirbhay is designed for an operational range of 1000-1500 km.

The test target was 647 km, which the missile achieved on Tuesday.


The Babur subsonic missile. Defence News

3. Nirbhay is faster than both Babur and the similar subsonic missile Tomahawk of the United States.

It has a maximum speed of Mach 0.8 or 987 km/hr. The successful test recorded a speed of Mach 0.7 or 864 km/hr. Both Tomahawk and Babur have Mach 0.7 as maximum speed.


The US Tomahawk missile. Wikimedia Commons

4. India’s missile is lighter than both the Pakistani and the American one but can carry a heavier payload than Babur.


This picture is from the current test. Twitter

5. And it is also different from others for its ability to turn into an aircraft after deployment.

After its launch, the Nirbhay deploys wings and flies towards the target powered by a gas turbine engine, which makes it look like an aircraft.


6. The unique thing is that Nirbhay can hover around a target (called loitering capability) and strike at will from any direction, just like an unmanned vehicle.



7. The cruise missile is stealth-based and can fly at tree-top level, making it difficult for a radar to detect.



8. The missile’s fire-and-forget system cannot be jammed.

The makes Nirbhay one of the deadliest weapons in India’s arsenal. Imagine a nuclear cruise missile heading in your direction at subsonic speed which you cannot jam! That’s scary for the enemy. BrahMos supersonic cruise missile has a similar system.


Nirbhay has been built by the DRDO. The Hindu

9. While Pakistani missiles use foreign GPS and satellites for navigation, Nirbhay uses India’s very own IRNSS or NAVIC satellite navigation system.

Remember those 7 satellites ISRO launched between 2013 and 2016?


The launch of IRNSS satellites was one of the most historic achievements in India’s space program. IRNSS

10. Nirbhay can be launched from land, sea or air. Tomahawk can be launched only from sea and Babur cannot be launched from air.


This is a missile launcher. L&T

11. A major reason behind development of Nirbhay is the fact that India cannot purchase missiles beyond a range of 300km.

The reason is that India is a signatory to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Both Pakistan and China are not.


12. With Nirbhay, India has now mastered the making of every kind of missile on earth – ballistic, tactical and cruise.

Note that BrahMos is a joint venture between India and Russia.


The BrahMos cruise missiles. AAME

13. It costs just Rs.10 crore per missile and covers the range limitation of the BrahMos.

Though BrahMos is the world’s fastest cruise missile, its maximum range is just 290-300 km and it is not nuclear-capable.



Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that with this successful test India is now in the “select League of Nations” which can boast of possessing “this complex technology and sub-sonic cruise missile capability”.


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