SOURCE: Anand SG / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
With a Sword hanging on the project, Nibhay Project Team were under immense pressure reportedly from Previous ex-Defence Minister Manhaor Parrikar after 2016 Nirbhay Cruise missile trial failed speculatory leading to quite a few red faces in the Ministry of Defence. Repeated failure might have been attributed to different abnormalities taking place in Nirbhay Cruise missile trials but one thing was clear that Nirbhay project required one successful flight which met all objectives to sustain project development which had dragged on for over a decade without much success.
Nibhay Project after reaving multiple extensions also received another 18 months extension which was seen as last chance for the Nirbhay project Team to fix missile or be ready to see the closure of the project. Parrikar asked DRDO to Give him one perfect test flight to prevent the closure of the project so DRDO came up with another solution.
Using tried and tested PTAE-7 turbojet engine from DRDO’s Lakshya remotely piloted high-speed target drone system was made to ensure next flight could go without any glitch since DRDO just didn’t want to the risk of using indigenous Manik Turbofan engine on Nirbhay on its very first flight which could have increased risk element. A lot very depending on the success of the recent trials and another failure was just not an option anymore.
Closure of India’s Subsonic cruise missile could have a deadly blow to the government since could have forced armed forces to depend on expensive supersonic cruise BrahMos missile to achieve same objectives which cheaper subsonic cruise missile could have achieved at a fraction of the cost. Importing a subsonic cruise missile from a friendly country like Russia could have lead to ridiculing of PM Modi’s ” Make in India” Defence objective and imported subsonic missile could have also come with several technological restrictions in terms of capabilities and range that it could not have served the operational requirement of the armed forces.
With next missile trial planned with indigenous Manik Turbofan engine in early 2018, another successful trial could get the push the project has been lacking for a while now. DRDO will still need to ensure that 3-4 more test which has been planned with different mission objectives also have successful missions before it can be rushed to User trails followed by limited Scale production.