DRDO aborts Nirbhay Missile 8 minutes after Test-fire

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Monday test-fired the 800-km range Nirbhay missile off Wheeler Island on Odisha’s coast but had to abort the mission soon as the missile appeared to have developed a technical snag after launch. The Nirbhay missile program has been a jinxed one for the DRDO, as there have been five earlier test launches with minimal or no success.

In the span of the last thirty-five days, the DRDO has tested around 10 missiles – equivalent to one trial every four days. India’s expedition and fast-tracking of new-age weapons could be in response to Chinese buildup on the East Ladakh sector, which has been a source of continuous strain between the two South Asian giants.

The Nirbhay is a two-stage missile that is capable of carrying twenty-four different types of nuclear warheads. It has a payload of around 1500 kilograms and is approximately six metres in length. The missile was initially planned to counter Babur, Pakistan’s land-attack cruise missile.

Unlike Brahmos, which operates at Mach 2.8 (nearly three times the speed of sound), the Nirbhay is a subsonic missile. Its terrain-hugging and sea-skimming capabilities help it avoid enemy radar and subsequent detection. The conventional warhead missiles, capable of striking deep into the enemy territory, can be launched from both mobile platforms as well as armoured ships on the go.

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