India has multiple anti-ship and land attack missiles under development to cater to the diverse needs of the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force (IAF). Here is an overview of these on-going programs

These naval missile programs include derivatives of the Nirbhay subsonic cruise missile, development of a new subsonic Naval Anti-Ship Missile (NASM) series, range extension program for the supersonic BrahMos missile, development of BrahMos-NG and a ballistic Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRAShM).

Nirbhay And Derivatives

The Nirbhay subsonic cruise missile with a stated range of 1000 km has been developed by DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE). As of January 2023, eight successful flight trials were revealed to have been conducted. Technologies like thrust vector control to turn the missile into and onto the target plane in-flight wing deployment and in-flight engine start have been proved. Very low altitude flight of up to 5 meters in altitude and navigation systems have also been proven as part of technology development. ADE intends to achieve 100% indigenisation with the missile and its variants which will inherit these proven technologies.

The Small Turbo Fan Engine (STFE) engine developed by DRDO’s GTRE is a major part of this indigenisation attempt. After multiple reported glitches, the STFE has been proven with multiple units being fabricated in recent years for extensive testing. BrahMos Aerospace has been a production agency for the STFE with its unit in Thiruvananthapuram augmenting its production capacity up to 18 engines per annum. GTRE is also seeking more industrial partners to support testing and production activities of the engine, the requirement of which is in the hundreds.

A Submarine Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM) has been indigenously developed from Nirbhay, with two variants: a Land attack cruise missile (LACM) and Anti-Ship Cruise Missile (ASCM). According to an ADE poster released by news agency ANI in November, a trial was revealed to have been conducted in February 2023 and had met all the mission objectives with a range of 402 km:

The specifications of the missile were also revealed. It has a stated range of 500 km, with a cruise length of 5.6 meter, diameter of 0.505 meter, all up weight of 975 kg and Mach 0.7 speed. It would feature INS/GPS navigation, with an RF seeker for terminal guidance. The SLCM would have two types of warheads: PCB and airburst, which could depend on whether the SLCM is of the LACM or ASCM variant.

The SLCM is notably more compact than the Nirbhay, with the cruise phase length lower by 0.4 metre, diameter lower by 15 mm and reduction in mass. The substantially lower range of SLCM is likely a result of these dimensional constraints required to fit the missile in torpedo tubes of submarines.

Meanwhile, a longer ranged variant of the Nirbhay is also under development. Known as the Long Range – Land Attack Cruise Missile (LR-LACM), the missile is expected to have a range of up to 1,500 km. This missile would be operated by both the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force when development is complete. This missile would be compatible with the Universal Vertical Launch Module (UVLM) cells used for BrahMos. The airframes for SLCM and LR-LACM are being made by Godrej which has delivered multiple units to support developmental activities.

NASM Series

The NASM series is a family of subsonic missiles being developed by DRDO’s RCI. The only missile currently known to have been tested is the NASM-SR short range missile. First tested in May 2022, the Indian Navy recently announced that “guided flight trials” of NASM-SR were successfully conducted on November 21, 2023. A Seaking 42B helicopter is being used for developmental activities. The 375 kg, 3.6 meter long missile is propelled by a solid rocket booster with a stated maximum range of 55 km. The missile features a terminal IIR seeker. An omni-directional multi-EFP warhead weighing 100 kg has been developed for the missile. Approval for future procurement of the missile was granted in December 2022.

On November 30, 2023 approval was granted for future procurement of Medium Range Anti-Ship Missiles (MRAShM) for surface platforms of the Indian Navy. “The MRAShM is envisaged as a lightweight Surface-to-Surface Missile which will be a primary offensive weapon onboard Indian Naval Ships,” according to a press release.

While the missile intended to meet this requirement remains unconfirmed, the NASM-MR being developed by DRDO is a contender. The turbojet propelled missile will have a range of about 300 km and can be launched from both air and ground. The missile can be equipped with an IIR seeker as well as RF seeker. A MiG-29K would be capable of carrying four such missiles. About 450 MRAShM are expected to be procured.

A project to develop ‘Glidefire’ surface to surface missiles with help from the private industry is also progressing. This missile would be lightweight, modular and will use “hybrid propulsion.” The missile is intended to be launched from UVLM cells as well as modular scalable ship based launchers. The tentative requirement is for at least 100 such missiles.


While these subsonic missiles will begin replacing imported systems currently in use such as Kh-35, Klub, Exocet and Harpoon from 2027, the bulk of the Indian Navy’s strike capability will continue to be provided by the supersonic BrahMos missile. While older ships such as the Rajput class continue to test these missiles, new destroyers such as the Visakhapatnam class vessel Imphal have also tested extended range versions of BrahMos, in what is the first such extended range test before commissioning of any Indian warship. The range extension gives the missile a range of over 500 km. Further extension in range along with indigenisation of the missile subsystems is under progress.

A smaller version of the BrahMos, dubbed BrahMos NG, is also under development. Maiden firing of the 1,500 kg missile is expected to occur within a few months. The missile would be compatible with multiple aircraft, unlike the BrahMos ALCM which can be carried only by modified Su-30MKIs.


Information regarding the LRAShM mostly stems from open source references to the program. Based on these, the missile is likely to have a diameter of 1.4 meter and a length of about 14 meters. Total weight is less than 20 tons. It is likely that the development of this missile is closely associated with the submarine launched K4 and the land launched Agni-1 Prime ballistic missiles. The expected range of the missile is at least 1,500 km, with hypersonic glide warheads being a possibility.

In late September, India issued a notification for a no fly zone over the Bay of Bengal between October 5 and 9. The area had a maximum length of about 2,000 km. On October 6, local media sources reported that a successful test of LRAShM was conducted. Such a range would enable the Indian Navy to threaten PLAN assets in the Sunda Strait using land based missiles in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, with the right ISR support. The Sunda Strait has been an area of concern for India since it is used increasingly by PLAN assets to enter the Indian Ocean, away from the Strait of Malacca which is dominated by the Indian Navy and IAF.

While occasional forays by IAF and the Navy vessels currently keep watch over Sunda, the ongoing expansion of the Navy along with diverse and numerous indigenous armament can be expected to give India the decisive capability it desires over access to the Indian Ocean. Regional partners such as Australia are also pursuing acquisition of long strike assets such as Tomahawk while other partners such as Japan and Philippines are also acquiring substantial strike capability. The initial delivery of BrahMos missiles to Philippines is slated to occur this month. Such exports will be attempted with the NASM series of missiles as well as BrahMos NG.