India’s homemade 1000-kilometer-range cruise missile test had to be aborted 8 minutes into the flight after it suffered technical issues in the engine. Nirbhay is a two-stage missile. Its solid-fuel rocket motor serves as its first stage and accelerates the missile after launch to cruise speed when a turbojet engine in the second stage takes over.

Nirbhay for the first time was fitted with the indigenously developed, Small Turbo Fan Engine (STFE) propulsion system developed by the Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE). But in a recent trial, the missile had successful lift-off, after the second stage engine ignition, missile engines abruptly went off and due to that the missile later plunged into the sea. has been confirmed that later, the missile was recovered from the Sea nearly intact and currently been examined by the DRDO.

The recovered missile will help, Scientists and engineers understand what went wrong and will help prepare them for the next test flight that will be based on the final report that will be submitted to the DRDO HQ, in the next few weeks. A certain section of the media has blamed the recent failure on the untested STFE propulsion system, which they claim had not cleared all the required ground trials, yet it was rushed into the trial due to long delays associated with the Nirbhay program and under government pressure.

Russian-made NPO Saturn 36MT mini turbofan engines have been used in all previous trials and DRDO has enough of these engines to make around 300 Nirbhay cruise missiles for the Indian Army which has been inducted and presently deployed at LAC against Chinese positions in limited numbers.

In past, the Nirbhay program has suffered developmental trial failures due to technical issues in the deployment of wings, when in inflight and also due to software issues but this time, has been told that recent failure can be squarely blamed on the STFE propulsion system that was developed by GTRE a DRDO lab since all other major issues with the missile have been long fixed and the missile was successfully demonstrated in past in its full flight regime.

If the STFE propulsion system suffered minor technical issues then the missile will be ready for another trial in the next 3-4 months but if the issue is major as reported then it could take another year even if it is successful in the next trials it could require nearly 3-4 years of trials before it can be cleared for production with the new STFE propulsion system until then Russian-made NPO Saturn 36MT mini turbofan engines might be used as an interim measure for 300 missiles which are to be ordered for Indian Army soon by the Government.

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