The missile during the flight veered off the intended trajectory and was terminated mid-way

BHUBANESWAR: The much-awaited trial of the new version of India’s first Indigenous Technology Cruise Missile (ITCM) Nirbhay failed on Monday with the weapon system deviating from the pre-designated trajectory forcing defence scientists to abort the mission mid air. 

Defence sources said equipped with indigenous Short Turbo Fan Engine (STFE) and an advanced radio frequency seeker, the missile fired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) off Odisha coast at about 10.35 am developed snag seconds after taking off from a mobile launcher specifically designed for Nirbhay by the Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (VRDE).

A reliable source informed that the missile’s engine developed technical glitches after booster phase and deviated from the pre-coordinated flight path. “The mission team had to kill the missile mid air to prevent damages to human habitation. The missile was to fly nearly 400 km. A Sukhoi-30MKI aircraft was deployed to track the missile,” the source informed. 

Of the seven trials of the sub-sonic Nirbhay missile conducted so far, three have failed to deliver desired results. This mission had assumed significance as the missile was fitted with indigenous engine developed by Gas Turbine Research Establishment and the seeker made by Research Centre Imarat. Earlier version of the missile was equipped with Russian engine.

Although sources informed that the engine used in the missile had not cleared the ground tests properly, defence authorities denied it. “All data generated during the trial are being analysed. More time is required to find out the faults and ascertain what exactly went wrong,” said a Ministry of Defence official. 

In 2015, The Express had highlighted how the Nirbhay system was put to trial despite issues with fuel tank and flight control software. The missile during the flight on October 16 that year veered off the intended trajectory and was terminated mid-way.

Developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the missile during its maiden trial on March 12, 2013 had also behaved in a similar way and swerved, prompting the mission team to destroy it mid air.