India’s home-grown cruise missile Nirbhay likely to be tested today from Odisha
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is all set to go for a fresh trial of the home-grown cruise missile Nirbhay from a defence base off Odisha coast on Tuesday. The indigenously developed surface-to-surface sub-sonic missile, which is compared with America’s Tomahawk missile, is likely to be test-fired from the launching complex-III of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-sea.
A few scientists involved with the project have, however, expressed concern as the missile is being pushed for trials despite shortcomings in it. “The snags in the flight control and navigation software have not been sorted out. Strangely, the authorities are pinning illogical hopes on its success. Our fingers are crossed,” said a source. DRDO authorities could not be contacted for comment. Prior to the last year’s trial, The New Indian Express had carried a story highlighting the shortcomings in the missile system.
The missile performed exactly as it was apprehended and the mission was aborted after 700 seconds. The fuel tank used in the missile system had not cleared the Environmental Stress Screening (ESS) tests thus making it vulnerable during flight. Safety of the system, quality of subsystems and reliability of the build components were also compromised during the trial. Developed by Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) of DRDO, the missile is yet to perform as expected. It has undergone three tests in the last three years.
While during the first test in 2013 the guidance component, known as gyro, in the navigation system of the missile had malfunctioned for which the missile veered off the path, during the second test in 2014 it could not manoeuvre at the desired low height.
The cruise missile having a strike range of around 750 km to 1,000 km is expected to supplement the Indo-Russian joint venture supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, which can carry warheads up to 290 km. The two-stage Nirbhay missile has a length of six meters, the diameter of 0.52 m, wing span 2.7 m and a launch weight of about 1,500 kgs. Bengaluru-based Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) has designed the missile