BALASORE: Even as the maiden trial of India’s home-grown cruise missile Nirbhay developed critical snags and second trial could not attain desired low altitude, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is all set to go for its third trial with a few shortcomings in the missile system.
The indigenously developed surface-to-surface sub-sonic missile is likely to be test-fired from the launching complex-III of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) off the Odisha coast at about 10 am Friday. While the range integration has been completed, the schedule has been cleared by the Launch Authorisation Board (LAB).
A reliable source on Wednesday told this paper that the fuel tank which is used in the missile system has not cleared the Environmental Stress Screening (ESS) tests thus making it vulnerable during flight.
“Not only this, it is still unclear whether the Nirbhay flight control software (NFCS) has undergone Independent Verification and Validation of software. Its fuel tank is yellow banded after the ESS tests, which means it should not be used for actual trial. They have also skipped doing any vibration of it for the fear of failure of any welded joints,” the source informed.
Though the missile is meant for low flight, if the sources are to be believed, this time too low manoeuvre is not attempted and the Nirbhay project authorities are desperate to go ahead with the trial even if it does not manoeuvre at low height and restricts between two km and one km flight height.
However, almost all technical issues are said to have been resolved by the LAB chaired by eminent scientist Avinash Chander and Director General (Aeronautics) K Tamilmani at the test range on Wednesday.
Initially the missile was planned for the test on August 14. It was postponed for September last week, which too could not be conducted.
It is still a million dollar question why is this missile being tested when all its sub-systems are not properly validated for such tests. “Some of the top scientists are taking such decisions at the cost of public money to further their career,” claimed a defence official on condition of anonymity.
However, Nirbhay has some unique features which makes it a lethal weapon. It has been designed to have good loitering and manoeuvring capability, best control and guidance, high degree of accuracy in terms of impact and stealth features.
Nirbhay has a strike range of around 750 km to 1000 km. Once operational, it would supplement the Indo-Russian joint venture BrahMos cruise missile. Tamilmani did not respond to calls from this paper.