The new generation sub-sonic cruise missile ‘Nirbhay’ on Tuesday failed in its maiden test. It deviated from the path and fell into human habitation forcing the DRDO authorities to terminate the missile midway. Sources said a slight delay to destroy the weapon would have proved disastrous.
The stealth missile was fired from the launching complex-III of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) off the Odisha coast at about 11.50 am. Though it was planned to cover a distance of 350 km, the missile behaved erratically after travelling nearly one-fourth of the distance in about 20 minutes.
The missile was blasted off from a road mobile launcher and the initial lift-up was smooth. For the first time for a cruise missile, it was coordinated to go up to Berhampur coast and then return. ‘’The missile system performed well till it travelled 80 km at a speed of 0.75 Mach. Suddenly, there was a vibration in the engine which propelled the vehicle to behave awkwardly. It, thereafter, deviated from its designated path. The missile then was destroyed to avoid any untoward incident. Data has been sent to DRDO for further analysis,’’ a source said. Two helicopters fitted with transponders tracked the missile throughout its flight path. After it was blown off midway, the missile remnants fell in the orchard of one Jatadhari Giri of Giripada village under Gadaharishpur panchayat in Jagatsinghpur district. Locals, who mistook it as bomb shell, were scared as the missile debris fell with a huge noise. ‘’The impact of the destruction was so huge, I thought two helicopters crashed and fell down. Thank God, it didn’t fall on the houses,’’ said Giri. Later, the villagers informed the police, who, with the help of defence officials, recovered the missile remnants.
The DRDO authorities, however, claimed the test was partially successful. DRDO’s Directorate of Public Interface Director Ravi Kumar Gupta said basic mission objectives were met.