With Nirbhay missile test and Coast Guard patrol vessel, L&T issues reminder - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Monday 15 April 2019

With Nirbhay missile test and Coast Guard patrol vessel, L&T issues reminder

The Nirbhay long-range, sub-sonic cruise missile roars off the launch pad for its successful test on Monday

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 16th April 19

Larsen & Toubro’s (L&T’s) defence business scored twin successes on Monday, with a successful test of the long-range Nirbhay cruise missile in Odisha, followed by the ahead-of-time delivery of a 2,140-tonne Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) to the Coast Guard (CG) at Visakhapatnam.

The Nirbhay test – its sixth developmental flight trial – was crucial, with three of its five previous firings having been unsuccessful to varying degrees. This test, however, was a complete success, says the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), which manages the Nirbhay project.

L&T has designed the Nirbhay’s airframe, fuel tanks and foldable wings, as well as the entire launch system. Other private sector firms also have lesser roles. The Gas Turbine Research Establishment, a DRDO laboratory, is designing the Nirbhay’s engine.

Launched from the Integrated Test Range in Chandipur, Odisha, the Nirbhay was required to skim the sea, just metres above the waves, and accurately navigate its way past a series of designated “way points”, spread out over 1,000 kilometres.

This capability would, in wartime, allow the Nirbhay to follow a low-level path, undetected by enemy radar, and strike a target 1,000 kilometres away with extreme precision. Stealth is essential because the slow-flying missile is vulnerable to being shot down by fighter aircraft, if detected by enemy radar.

“The missile took off vertically, turning horizontally into [the] desired direction, [the] booster separated, wing deployed, engine started, [and the missile] cruised [past] all the intended waypoints. The missile demonstrated its sea-skimming capability to cruise at very low altitudes,” said a defence ministry (MoD) release.

The defence ministry says a chain of radars, electro-optical and telemetry systems along the eastern coast tracked and validated the Nirbay’s flight.

More flight-testing lies ahead for the Nirbhay, which will eventually be fired from land, sea and airborne platforms.

Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) delivered

Army chief General Bipin Rawat commissioned Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Veera at Visakhapatnam, the third of seven OPVs that L&T is building at Kathupalli shipyard in Tamil Nadu.

L&T won the Rs 1,304 crore CG contract to build seven OPVs in March, 2015. All three vessels delivered so far have been ahead of schedule.

These OPVs are designed in-house, at L&T’s warship design centre at Manapakkam, Chennai, making it the first significant warship fully designed and built in private sector facilities. L&T is pushing hard to be also allowed to design and build larger warships like corvettes, frigates, and destroyers, but the MoD has so far given those contracts “on nomination” to the four public sector defence shipyards: Mazagon Dock, Mumbai; Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers, Kolkata; Goa Shipyard Ltd and Hindustry Shipyard Ltd, Visakhapatnam. In addition, Cochin Shipyard Ltd, a state enterprise, is being “nominated” to build aircraft carriers for the navy. 

L&T is also pushing for the Project 75-I contract to build six conventional submarines, based on foreign technology, which the MoD proposes to tender under the strategic partner (SP) category. For this, L&T has an impressive track record, having built the hulls of India’s nuclear submarines at its Hazira facility.

Says Jayant Patil, who heads L&T’s heavy engineering and defence business: “We have demonstrated our ability to deliver high-tech platforms on, or ahead of, time and within budget. We remain optimistic that the MoD will provide us a level playing field to enable us to play a larger role in defence.”

The 98-metre-long OPVs embark 106 crewmembers, who police India’s maritime zone on anti-smuggling and anti-piracy missions of up to 5,000 nautical miles (9,250 kilometres). The vessels can touch 26 knots (50 km per hour) and deploy a 30-millimetre main gun and two 12.7 mm heavy machine guns. 

The OPV also embarks a twin-engine helicopter and four high-speed boats for boarding operations. It is also equipped to respond to fires and oil and chemical spills.


  1. L&T deserves orders and very large one's. they are the only company capable of delivering all kinds of warships and military equipment before time and on budget.
    Alas, all PSU's will resist their entry and paid media will play along opposing them getting any worthwhile business. ICG can only given them small piecemeal orders whereas exports cannot happen if our own navy does not give them contract.
    This company's only hope is that it gets orders on nomination basis. otherwise they will have to shut down the yard and lay off their staff.
    The LPD contract is nowhere in sight and this govt is terribly scared now to place orders after Rafale episode. All other contracts will go to PSU's as their pricing will be lower then L&T's.
    There is no way they can get P75i and it makes no sense to shut MDL line and start a new one elsewhere. the P75i will have to be expanded to 12 vessels and then it can be split evenly.

  2. I like this bog because the author separates the wheat from the chaff and it is from articles like these that strong brands are built. Broadsword has a lot of credibility among his readers some of whom are decision makers.
    Larsen and Turbo has a long and illustrious history since the time it was set up by two Danish refugees which reminds me of my own grandfather who set up a factory in India which involved the charter of a ship to carry the factory from Germany in the 1930s. The ship when it arrived, it was discovered the 8 German technicians & Engineers who were hired to set up the factory, turned out to be unqualified Jewish refugees. Much to the annoyance of grandfather whose factory was delayed.
    The two Danish Gentlemen who founded Larsen And Turobo along with Mr Desai and Mr Rao were rock solid and knew what they were doing. It’s the strong management at the company which is a clue to its success. The company is managed by professionals, I can testify the company has paid handsome dividends.


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