Success Questioned in Much-Hyped Indian Antimissile Test

Global Security Newswire Staff
Global Security Newswire Staff
May 15, 2014, 9:25 a.m.

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.

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