New Delhi - A supersonic cruise missile jointly developed by Russia and India failed to hit its target in a test previously reported as successful, Indian military scientists said Jan. 21.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation, which initially claimed the Jan. 20 test of the BrahMos missile had been a "total success," said the missile had flown only in the general direction of its target.
"The missile performance was absolutely normal till the last phase, but it missed the target, though it maintained the direction," BrahMos project chief Sivathanu Pillai told the Press Trust of India.
The eight-metre (26-foot) missile weighs about three metric tons and can be launched from land, ships, submarines or aircraft, traveling at a speed of up to Mach 2.8. It has a range of 290 kilometres (180 miles) and is designed to carry a conventional warhead.
The missile was fired from the Pokhran range in the western desert state of Rajasthan, bordering Pakistan, the site of India's nuclear tests in 1998.
The Times of India newspaper suggested Jan. 21 that the failure was a result of an attempt to configure the missile to carry a nuclear warhead.
Pillai did not comment on the newspaper's report but said his scientists were trying to debug the guidance system of a missile that had been tested 20 times in the past eight years.
"A new software used for this mission will be revalidated through extensive simulations, and a flight trial will be carried out in a month's time to prove the augmented capabilities of the missile," he said.
India and Russia - its largest military supplier - hope to mass produce the BrahMos for export.
Nuclear-armed India, the largest arms buyer among emerging countries, has started arming its navy and army with the BrahMos as a tactical battlefield weapons system.
The missile is named after India's Brahmaputra River and Russia's Moskva River. (defencenews.com)
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