T.S. Subramanian CHENNAI
DECEMBER 21, 2016 03:34 IST
UPDATED: DECEMBER 21, 2016 18:08 IST
The flight-test of Nirbhay, India’s subsonic cruise missile, from the Integrated Test Range (ITR), Balasore, Odisha, on Wednesday was “an utter failure”, informed sources in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said. Out of four Nirbhay missions so far, three have ended in failure.
The two-stage Nirbhay lifts off like a missile and later flies an aircraft. It combines in itself missile and aeronautical technologies. The DRDO conceived, designed and developed Nirbhay to fly at a subsonic speed of 0.7 km and take out targets 1,000 km away.
On Wednesday afternoon, after the missile took off from Launch Complex-III of the ITR, it did not follow the required flight path.
“The booster engine in Nirbhay's first stage started working. The missile lifted off from its launcher. But it started veering dangerously towards one side in less than two minutes of its lift-off,” DRDO officials said.
It started flying beyond the safety corridor and threatened to fall on the land. So the “destruct” mechanism in the first stage of the missile was activated and Nirbhay was destroyed.
DRDO sources called the mission “an utter failure” because the missile started veering towards one side in the “initial phase” of the flight itself.
“It is a big failure. We should have a thorough re-look at what has been done so far. Out of four Nirbhay missions, three have ended in failure,” sources added.
Ruling out any problem with the missile's configuration, sources said it could be “a hardware failure” that led to the mission being aborted. “This is a hardware element issue. This is a reliability issue with a component,” they explained.
A successful Nirbhay mission would have lasted for more than an hour. In a normal mission, the contraption will take off vertically like a missile, then a mechanism in its first stage will tilt the missile horizontally and the first stage with its booster engine will jettison into the sea. Then the second stage with the turbo-engine will start cruising horizontally like an aircraft with its wings spread out at a subsonic speed of 0.7 Mach. The missile can carry a 300-kg warhead.
Nirbhay’s debut flight on March 12, 2013 was a failure. After 20 minutes of its flight, it deviated from its flight path and the contraption’s “destruct” mechanism was activated to destroy it.
The second flight on October 17, 2014 was a big success. The missile travelled 1,010 km instead of the targeted 800 km.
The third mission on October 16, 2015 was again a failure again. After 70 seconds of its flight, when it was cruising like an aircraft after the first stage had fallen off as planned, it lost control and fell within the safety zone.
BAY OF BENGAL.
1. HAZARDOUS OPERATIONS:
A. 0330Z TO 0730Z DAILY 20 AND 21 DEC
IN AREA BOUND BY
21-19.71N 086-53.28E, 20-24.68N 087-13.73E,
19-18.57N 085-39.55E, 18-55.65N 086-00.15E,
20-55.02N 088-39.60E, 21-35.59N 087-10.70E.
B. 0530Z TO 0930Z DAILY 22 THRU 24 DEC
IN AREA BOUND BY
21-22.36N 086-55.59E, 21-13.92N 086-51.84E,
20-39.66N 087-22.32E, 20-52.38N 087-36.66E,
21-25.74N 087-05.16E, 21-22.88N 086-56.59E.
2. CANCEL THIS MSG 241030Z DEC 16.//
Authority: NAVAREA VIII 775/16 161221Z DEC 16.
Date: 161243Z DEC 16
Cancel: 24103000 Dec 16