Hyderabad, Oct 16: The much-awaited flight test of India's sub-sonic cruise missile Nirbhay failed on Friday, Oct 16. The missile flew for 11.6 minutes only out of its scheduled one hour flight.
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) sources told OneIndia that the missile launched today morning had to be terminated mid-way after it failed to stick to the designated trajectory.
"We suspect the snag with the control system, which had worked perfectly during the previous two launches. The system is developed at Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) in Bengaluru," a source said.
"A thorough failure investigation will only give us the right reason. We will analyze what ever data that's available with us now," he said. When asked about media reports that the launch was done in a hurry, he refused to comment.
As reported by OneIndia earlier, today's was the third flight trial of Nirbhay conducted from Launch Complex-III of Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur (near Balasore) off Odisha coast.
Test was crucial for DRDO top brass
The third test was critical for DRDO's top brass, who are put under the scanner by the Modi government during the last one year.
The missile makers at ADE too were under pressure, making the Nirbhay test results extremely crucial. Nirbhay is the first missile that is being developed outside the Missile Complex in Hyderabad.
The project was handed over to ADE, primarily due to its expertise is designing and developing unmanned aerial vehicles. Being a sub-sonic cruise missile, Nirbhay has many features of an aircraft as well.
Even DRDO chief Dr S Christopher had stayed away from the renaming ceremony of the Missile Complex on Thursday and sources said that he was at Balasore for the Nirbhay launch.
Missile fell in the notified area: DRDO
In an official response to the failed mission, DRDO said the missile took off at 11:38 am.
"All initial critical operation such as booster ignition, booster separation, wing deployment and engine start were successfully executed and Nirbhay reached the desired cruise altitude," an official spokesperson said.
During the turn towards the second way point in azimuth plane, Nirbhay developed a snag and lost its control and fell within the notified area.
"During 700 seconds of the flight, all the sub-system of the missile functioned satisfactorily, meeting the desired function. We are analyzing the data acquired by range instrumentation, airborne telemetry system and chase aircraft video data for analyzing the nature of failure," the spokesperson added.
Second failure of the missile a bolt to ADE
The scientists had termed the low-altitude trial as a challenging one, owing to the extremely high drag it could encounter. However, as reported in a section of media, this was not a mission that was executed from a submarine, but one tested from a mobile launcher.
The missile had failed during its maiden launch on March 12, 2013. The mission was aborted mid-way then when a critical system developed snag. The missile was launched successfully on October 17 last year meeting all parameters.
Today's failure will certainly be a bolt to ADE, who will now have to probably reassess the strengths of the current project team.