By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: In a much-needed technology push, India test-launched Indigenous Technology Cruise Missile (ITCM) with a new Made-in-India turbofan engine from a defence facility off the Odisha coast on Wednesday.

Defence sources said the ITCM, an advanced version of subsonic cruise missile Nirbhay, was test-fired with small turbofan engine Manik from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at about 10 am.

This was the first developmental trial of the missile with the new indigenous engine after an unsuccessful attempt on October 12 last year as the mission had to abort due to a technical snag in the system.

“Equipped with the new engine the missile was tested for a short-range. The turbofan engine performed well. The focus was on gauging the performance of the engine, which has been validated by clearing decks for further advancement. The next test will be to cover the full range of the missile,” a senior defence official told The New Indian Express.

The first successful test of the Manik engine assumes significance as once mastered, the technology will pave the way for the development of different versions of the engine and long-range much faster cruise missiles.

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The DRDO has developed a new engine to replace the foreign engine earlier used in the missile system. The small turbofan engine of 400 kg thrust class has been designed and developed by the Bengaluru-based Gas Turbine Research Establishment to propel cruise missiles.

“Manik has state of the art digital control, advanced fuel control, and pyro systems. The twin-spool engine without an afterburner and with high-speed alternator, un-cooled high-pressure turbine blades and shrouded low-pressure turbine blades, makes it different from others,” said a defence scientist.

Developed by DRDO, Nirbhay is India’s first indigenously built cruise missile. After initial hiccups, the weapon system has completed six developmental trials between 2012 and 2019. It will soon be deployed in the armed forces after a couple of user trials.

The two-stage ICTM is six-meter tall with a diameter of 0.52 m, a wingspan of 2.7 m, and a launch weight of about 1.5 tonne. Cruising at a speed of 0.9 Mach it can strike targets at a distance of up to 1,000 km. The cruise missile will supplement the Indo-Russian joint venture supersonic cruise missile BrahMos.