BHUBANESWAR  – India’s first indigenously developed medium range subsonic cruise missile ‘Nirbhay’ on Tuesday failed to hit the target. In its maiden trial test-firing the missile terminated mid-way after deviating from the flight course.The two-stage missile blasted off from the eastern state of Orissa but the test flight was halted prematurely to ‘ensure coastal safety’, the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said.The missile, which failed to hit the intended target in the sea, was terminated over the Bay of Bengal after it was airborne for about 25 minutes but crashed on land at some distance from a village near Kendrapara in Odisha, DRDO spokesman Ravi Gupta said. It is unusual for aborted missiles to fall on land.The DRDO while making the announcement, however, said the sub-sonic missile ‘Nirbhay’ (fearless) with a strike range of around 1,000 km was ‘successfully’ launched and met the basic mission objectives and performed some of the manouveres satisfactorily.With a range of 1,000 kilometres, the subsonic missile is intended to cruise like an aircraft and can be launched from land, sea and air, defence officials said. The surface-to-surface missile is fitted with a turbojet engine and is capable of flying at low altitudes to avoid detection.India already has in its arsenal the supersonic BrahMos missile which it developed jointly with Russia.Tuesday’s test comes less than a year after India successfully launched its nuclear-capable Agni V ballistic missile with a range of more than 5,000 kilometres.The Indian military views the Agni V missile as a key boost to its regional power aspirations and one that narrows - albeit slightly - its huge gap with China’s technologically advanced missile systems.While the shorter-range Agni I and II were mainly developed with India’s traditional rival Pakistan in mind, later versions with longer range reflect the shift in India’s focus towards China.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 13-Mar-2013 here.