India’s indigenous surface-to-surface cruise missile Nirbhay on Friday nosedived midway as the mission was aborted after only about 11 minutes of test flight.
The missile, which has a designed range of 750-1,000 km, nosedived after covering only 128 km over the Bay of Bengal.
The mission was “aborted” after 700 seconds (around 11 minutes) of flight, defence ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar tweeted.
“Nirbhay long-range subsonic tactical cruise missile was launched from the Integrated Test Range, Chandipur, at 11:38 a.m. today (Friday),” Kar said.
“All initial critical operations - booster ignition, booster separation, wing deployment and engine start - were successfully executed and Nirbhay reached the desired cruise altitude.”
“During the 700 seconds of flight, all the subsystems of Nirbhay cruise missile functioned satisfactorily and met all desired functions. The mission was aborted after 700 seconds of flight,” he said in a series of tweets.
According to Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) sources, although the takeoff was successful amid repeated disruptions in countdown, the missile missed the target after 11 minutes after it was test-fired from Balasore district of Odisha.
The missile’s first test on March 12, 2013, had also failed as it fell after only 20 minutes of flight. The second test on October 17, 2014, was also not up to the mark as it could not maintain a low height.
The cruise missile is expected to supplement the Indo-Russian joint venture supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, which can carry warheads up to 290 km.
The two-stage missile has a length of six metres, a diameter of 0.52 m, a wing span of 2.7 m and a launch weight of about 1,500 kg.