Prithvi-II not all that successful
By Hemant Kumar Rout | Published: 21st December 2012 12:31 PM |
The outcome of user trial of nuclear-capable ballistic missile Prithvi-II on Thursday may not be very encouraging for the DRDO and the Army.
Mounted on a Mobile Tatra Transporter-erector Launcher (MTL), the sophisticated missile was fired from the launching complex - III (LC-III) of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur off the Odisha coast at about 9.20 am.
With all logistic supports from the DRDO, the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Indian Army test launched the missile in salvo mode to evaluate its consistency and readiness. It was the third test of the missile this year and two tests on August 25 and October 4 were complete success.
Even as the defence officials claimed that the test was successful, sources at the test range informed this paper that the mission was not a 100 per cent success.
“Though the target was set for the missile to cover its full operational range of 350 km, the missile managed to cover only 278 km. It failed to attain the desired height and had a deviation in its trajectory. The vehicle too did not adhere to the preordained flight path,” the source claimed.
Significantly, the mission was completely executed by the SFC, user of the missile. The test was to reconfirm the technical parameters set for the user associated launch and check the Army’s readiness to use it. The entire trajectory of the missile was tracked by a battery of sophisticated radars, telemetry observation stations, electro-optic instruments and naval ships.
A defence release stated that the Prithvi-II missile was equipped with advanced high accuracy navigation system and guided by an innovative guidance scheme. “The improved Circular Error Probability (CEP) achieved is a testimony to the efficacy of this missile system,” it said.
Quoting an SFC spokesperson, the release said, “The flight conveys our preparedness to meet any eventuality. The mission has fully validated our operational readiness. With this launch, the SFC has successfully carried out launches of all the variants of Prithvi and Agni missiles in operational conditions.”
So far, Prithvi class of missiles has been test launched at least 57 times from this test range and in the last three years it has failed to give desired results four times. The twin-engine, liquid fuelled, 8.56-metre tall missile with a strike range of 350 km has the capability to carry nearly one tonne warhead.
In its line up to build a minimum credible nuclear deterrence while the DRDO claimed to have achieved many milestones, recurring failures of Prithvi-II missile, touted as a proven weapon of the country, have left defence experts worried, who too have questioned the reliability over P-II during the deployment stage.