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Nirbhay cruises off target, terminated

M. Somasekhar Balasore (Odisha) | Updated on March 12, 2018

BL13_HYD_NIRBHAY

It was well on its way to do the distance, but as it suddenly deviated its flight path, India’s sub-sonic cruise missile, Nirbhay (fearless), had to be terminated.

Thus, the maiden test flight of the ambitious, 1,000-km surface-to-surface missile, was cut short and Nirbhay could not hit the target. A sub-sonic missile flies at speeds less than that of sound (which is 1,235 km/hr or Mach 1)

The journey of Nirbhay begins on the lines of Agni-III, Agni-IV the long distance missiles, which also suffered technical glitches and did not achieve full success in their first flight as well.

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said Nirbhay was successfully launched today at 11.50 a.m. from launch complex, Chandipur, Odisha. After travelling approximately mid-way, deviations were observed from its intended course. Further, flight was terminated to ensure coastal safety.”

Avinash Chander, Chief Controller, R&D (missiles and strategic systems) said, “One of the sub-systems seems to have malfunctioned. This could have led to the change in trajectory. However, we will do a thorough investigation to get to the real causes”.

The best part was that Nirbhay triumphed on all the functions tested for a cruise missile. “We are highly confident of the design, launch, engine performance, movements of the missile like changing path etc. and the performance of the various stages and systems”, he said.

Nirbhay will provide the country with a low-cost, low-visible, high accuracy cruise missile, which can evade a radar, approach and attack from different directions of the target, inflicting least collateral damage. It can also be launched from different platforms — from air, land and sea.

India already has in its armour BrahMos, the supersonic cruise missile (speeds higher than the speed of sound), developed under joint venture with Russia and inducted into the Army. It has a reach of around 290 km and has several variants under development.

Nirbhayis totally indigenous. It has been developed by DRDO labs with the Bangalore-basedAeronautical Development Establishment as the nodal laboratory. It is versatile and can be launched from land, sea and air, said DRDO scientists.

The success of Nirbhay, which is comparable to the Tomahawk missile of the US, will give Indian defence a complete range of missiles — long-range (Agni), supersonic (BrahMos), K-15 ( underwater launched) and considerably beef up the strike and defence capabilities. Pakistan has a cruise missile named Babur with a 700 km range.

> somasekhar.m@thehindu.co.in

Published on March 12, 2013

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