BrahMos supersonic cruise missile has achieved several milestones and surely sending shivers down the enemy's spine due to its formidable precision strike capabilities. The air fired version of BrahMos, which flies almost three times the speed of sound, was successfully tested over Bay of Bengal for the first time from a Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jet on Wednesday.
All the praise and attention that the BrahMos is getting is fine, but what about Nirbhay cruise missile program which was launched by DRDO in 2004 and was expected to be completed by 2016.
Out of the five tests of Nirbhay subsonic missile, two were declared as failures and the result for one of the tests was never declared. The fifth and the last test conducted on November 7 this year was said to be a success.
The Nirbhay is a land attack cruise missile armed with a 300-kilogram warhead capable of reaching speeds of 0.6-0.7 Mach, and designed to be launched from air, sea, and land. But, ever since its conceptualisation, Nirbhay's test results have not yielded results that were expected.
Problems with Nirbhay:
Nirbhay was initially conceptualised to counter Pakistan's Babur Land-attack cruise missile. During its testing, nuclear-capable Nirbhay missile has suffered several setbacks. Since March 2013, three Nirbhay test launches have been classified as failures.
The missile was developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), Bengaluru. After the design was finalized, the technology required for the missile was developed. It was integrated by R&D Engineers, Pune, a specialized arm of DRDO.
The first test flight of the missile was planned in October 2012, but the launch was postponed to December owing to the changes being made to the launcher.
The first trial of Nirbhay was held on March 12, 2013, from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur. The missile took off from the launch pad successfully and reached the second stage of propulsion, travelling 15 minutes through its envisaged path at a speed of 0.7 mach. After that, it veered away from its trajectory. This forced the command center to detach the engine from the missile mid-way into the flight.
The second test of Nirbhay was held on October 17, 2014, from Chandipur. This time the missile met all the parameters and completed all 15 way-points. The missile travelled for more than 1000 km that lasted for a duration of over 1 hour and 10 minutes. Indian Airforce fighter jet Jaguar chased the missile during its flight to capture the video of the flight.
During its third test on October 16, 2015, all initial critical operations were successful and Nirbhay even and the missile even reached the desired Cruise Altitude. But, it crashed into the Bay of Bengal 11 minutes into its flight after covering only 128 km of its 1000 km range.
Nirbhay's fourth test took place on December 21, 2016, from ITR Chandipur. The results of this test have not been made public yet.
Reports say that the missile blasted off from its launcher but shortly afterward it started veering dangerously towards one side two minutes after lift-off. The missile then had to be destroyed mid-air after it strayed from its programmed course. A potential reason for the failure was described as a hardware problem with one of the missile's component.
The cruise missile took off from a specially designed launcher from the launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range or ITR at Chandipur, near Balasore on November 7, 2017.
"All initial critical operations of the trial such as a blast of the sophisticated missile are successful as it moved up in its trajectory," a DRDO statement said.
The test was dubbed successful but the exact details of the test are not known yet.