In brief: Cruise Missiles v/s Ballistic Missiles

About Nirbhay

  • Nirbhay is the long range sub-sonic cruise missile.
  • It is 1st indigenously developed long range cruise missile flying at low altitudes.
  • It is designed and developed by Advanced Defence Establishment of DRDO.
  • It will arm the army, the navy and the air force.


  • It flies at subsonic speeds of 0.7 mach. (speed of sound)
  • It has a long range of 700 to 1000 km.
  • Can fly at tree-top altitudes as low as 10 m. (now tested for 5 m)
  • Capable of delivering nuclear warheads of 200-300 kg.
  • It is a 2-stage solid fuelled cruise missile. As a result it has terrain-hugging capability and sea-skimming capability.
  • It is a guided cruise missile with MEMS-based, inertial navigation system.
  • Terrain hugging capability helps it go undetected by enemy radars.
  • Capable of being launched from multiple platforms including land, sea and air.


In brief: Cruise Missiles v/s Ballistic Missiles

Cruise Missile Ballistic Missile
A cruise missile is guided towards a preset land-based target using a navigation system. A ballistic missile is generally a projectile shot up in the atmosphere.
Cruise missiles are known for low altitude flight and high mobility and hence the name.



Ballistic missiles are launched outside the atmosphere where its warheads detach and hit the target. (uses gravity of earth and thus traces a parabolic path and hence he name)
Cruise missile have short ranges of 300 to 1000 km

BramHos – 290 to 450 km

Nirbhay – 700 to 1000


Ballistic missile have long ranges upto 1000 km  (ICBMs)

Agni V – 5000 km

Easy to intercept because of high terminal speeds. Difficult to intercept due to high terminal speeds of 5000 m/s
High precision due to navigation system Low precision
Cheaper and thus suitable for firing conventional warheads Expensive and thus suitable for firing nuclear warheads.


Section : Science & Tech