Sunday, April 20, 2014

DRDO Plans Nirbhay, Astra Tests in May 2014

Nirbhay cruise missile maiden test on March 12, 2013

DRDO Chief Avinash Chander told the press in Bhubaneshwar on April 19, 2014 that the second test of the Nirbhay cruise missile would be conducted in May 2014, following test of the BMD exoatmospheric interceptor in end April. He was in the city to address convocation of Siksha 'O' Anusandhan University.

DRDO has been planning the Nirbhay test for a while. Earlier on February 4, 2014, the DRDO Chief told the press on the sidelines of the Indian Science Congress that the second test would take place before February end. Still earlier, the Hindu reported on November 24, 2013 that a second test of the Nibrhay missile is planned in December 2013.

The debut test of the Nirbhay cruise missile at 11:50 AM on March 12, 2013 was aborted after about 20 mins of flight, as the missile deviated from its intended course.

The test was planned to the max range of the missile, which is 1,000 km. Following launch from a road mobile launcher, the first stage rocket booster separated, the second stage turbojet engine starter fired, and the engine attained full thrust; the missile reached a cruise speed of 0.7 M (460 k or 900 kph).

The missile is reported to have successfully navigated to two way-points before veering off course towards the coast.

The missile was flying at a height of 4.5 km when the mission was aborted by switching off the missile's engine. The missile had traveled around  300 km (30% of its envisage range.) at that point. All the parameters till then  were exactly as planned. The missile crashed on land.

DRDO's Avinash Chander, Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems), told The Hindu, "All the aspects of cruise vehicle were tested and verified. That is a major achievement."

He told Business-standard, "I would call the test 80 per cent successful. The Nirbhay demonstrated that it could take off correctly, establish a cruise profile, and navigate to its initial way-points. These were new performance parameters that we had never tested before, so we are satisfied that the test proved those. But then, one of the sub-systems malfunctioned and we had to terminate the test. All that remains is to determine why this happened and to rectify the flaw."

IDP Sentinel members can read more about the Nirbhay missile at this link.

DRDO's Astra and the Russian R-73 (AA-11 Archer) air-to-air missiles on a LCA at Aero India 2013.

DRDO has also scheduled the maiden air launch test of the Astra air-to-air missile in May 2014. The missile would be launched from a Su-30MKI.

IDP Sentinel members can read about the development trials of the Astra missile at this link.