The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) test fired an 800-km range missile from Odisha in the Bay of Bengal. This was the tenth missile to be fired by the DRDO in the last 35 days.
Amidst the rising border tensions between China and India, both the nuclear powers have not shied away from the display of strength. The first clash between India and China happened on May 5, 2020. This clash set up a stand-off between the two countries which expanded to four locations in East Ladakh almost immediately.
What is the need for a fast-track testing of missiles?
The tensions further escalated into a bloody clash in June 2020, resulting in deaths of multiple soldiers on both the sides of the border. It was the first time in four decades that the two neighbouring countries had lost soldiers on both sides. In July 2020, shots were fired again when Indian soldiers occupied the heights on the north bank of the salt water lake spread across 700 square kilometer.
Despite multiple rounds of negotiations between the two countries, the solution has not been determined. The Government of India (GOI) told the DRDO to fast-track its missile programme in the early part of the standoff because it has doubts about China’s commitment to peace on the border.
On September 7, 2020, the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) was the first one to be fired by India for test. Over the next four weeks, the DRDO had test-fired the extended-range version of the supersonic cruise missile ‘BrahMos’ that can blow up targets 400 km away, the nuclear-capable ‘Shaurya’ supersonic missiles that can travel at twice to thrice the speed of sound; and the supersonic missile assisted release of the torpedo that targets submarines apart from test-firing the laser-guided anti-tank guided missile just 10 days apart.
Apart from this, the DRDO has also carried out a night trail of the nuclear-capable ballistic missile namely, Prithvi-II. It is India’s first indigenous surface to surface missile which is capable of attacking targets at a range of 300 kilometer.
India has already moved a limited number of the missiles to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) where the Indian soldiers are in a tense standoff with the Chinese.
On Monday, the DRDO test fired the ‘Nirbhay’ cruise missile from Odisha’s test facility into the Bay of Bengal but decided to abort the trial a few minutes later.
The Nirbhay Cruise Missile
The Nirbhay Cruise Missile was the tenth missile to be test fired by the DRDO in the last 35 days. It is a 1,000 km range solid rocket booster missile which has a single shot kill ratio of more than 90 percent.
The subsonic missile travels at a speed of 0.7 Mach and has both terrain-hugging and sea-skimming capability that helps it to avoid detection and counter measures. The missile has a loitering capability that allows the delivery platform to manoeuvre mid-flight and at the end to hit the target.
The missile’s launch is powered by a solid rocket booster developed by DRDO’s Advanced Systems Laboratory, which unlike liquid propellant, are easier to handle. The conventional warhead missiles which are capable of deep penetration to strike high-value targets with precision are launched from mobile platforms.
Today’s test was conducted by DRDO to accelerate the development of missiles along the LAC. According to an official, the missile was launched at 10:30 am from the testing facility in Odisha, but the missile developed a snag and the trial was aborted 8 minutes later.
The scientists need to analyse the generated data during the tests to figure the edits that may be needed to be carried out before proper usage.
Earlier this month, India said that it was all set to introduce the Nirbhay cruise missile into the Indian Army and Navy. This would be done after the 7th trial which is schedule for the next month.
BrahMos Aerospace is an India-Russian joint venture which produces the supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from submarines, aircraft, land platforms or ships.
The first test flight of Nirbhay cruise missile was held on March 12, 2013. It had to be terminated mid way for safety reasons due to malfunction of a component. The second launch conducted on October 17, 2014 was successful.