BHUBANESWAR: Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has deferred the fifth test of homegrown subsonic cruise missile Nirbhay which was planned to be conducted on Wednesday.
Though DRDO is tightlipped about the reasons behind the postponement, sources said the test was called off due to technical reasons.
‘’A technical snag surfaced during checking of missile sub-systems which led to the postponement. As already three tests have been failed, we cannot afford to take any risk this time. Scientists are working to fix it,’’ said a Defence official associated with the mission.
On May 24, ‘The Express’ had carried a report on how the weapon system is being pushed for tests despite faults in the system drawing criticism from different quarters.
The sources, however, informed that the test would resume in a month once the fault is rectified. The two-stage missile has a length of six metres, diameter of 0.52 m, wing span 2.7 m and a launch weight of about 1,500 kgs. It can carry warhead up to 200 kgs.
While Bengaluru-based Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) has designed the missile, its solid rocket motor booster has been developed by Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), which has developed Agni series of missiles.
Having a strike range of around 1,000 km, Nirbhay is the country’s first indigenously developed subsonic cruise missile project. Compared with Tomahawk system of the US, the missile can challenge the weapons of its class.
Flying at tree-top level, it can deceive enemy radars making it difficult to be detected. Unlike other ballistic missiles, this cruise missile has wings and distinct tail fins. After reaching near the target area, it can hover around hitting its target from any direction.
Though the missile has many unique features as it blasts off like a rocket and unlike a missile, it turns into an aerial vehicle akin to an aircraft, DRDO is yet to achieve ‘copy book’ success during developmental trials.
Four tests of the missile have been conducted so far since its first trial in 2013. While the weapon had covered full strike range during second trial in 2014, it failed miserably in three other tests.