India's much-hyped April missile interceptor test may not have been the great success the military initially claimed, the New Indian Express reports.
Immediately after the April 27 test, an unidentified Indian Defense Research and Development Organization senior scientist was quoted by the Indian Statesman as calling the maiden test of the Prithvi Defense Vehicle "a complete success as it met all of its objectives without any flaws."
But the Express newspaper reported on Thursday that the interceptor never struck its target. The Prithvi vehicle passed the target, and its warhead failed to detonate, according to sources at the Wheeler Island Integrated Test Range
"The interceptor did not directly hit the target missile," an anonymous official said. "So it cannot be claimed that a hit-to-kill took place during the mission."
Additionally, the Prithvi interceptor did not reach its intended height of a minimum of 75 miles.
"The missed distance between the interceptor and the target was more than what was expected," the official said. "But we still can say that the mission was partially successful as the interceptor could be fired in time. In an automated operation, a radar-based detection and tracking system successfully detected and tracked the enemy ballistic missile."
DRDO head Avinash Chander is now asserting there never was a plan for the interceptor's warhead to explode, and that the principal purpose of the test was to monitor the trajectory of the missile target.
Meanwhile, the Indian military is preparing to conduct a test as soon as next month of the nuclear-ready Nirbhay cruise missile, the Times of India reported. This would be the second trial of the weapon, which is said to be capable of being launched from air, sea and land.
The maiden test of the weapon last year ended in failure when the launched missile deviated from its programmed flight course and had to be remotely destroyed. The Nirbhay is reportedly designed to carry nuclear payloads as far as 621 miles and has been compared to the U.S. Tomahawk missile.