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India's Nirbhay missile aborted in flight
by Staff Writers
New Delhi (UPI) Mar 15, 2013

N. Korea military test-fire short range missiles
Seoul (AFP) March 15, 2013 - North Korea's military fired short-range missiles into the East Sea (Sea of Japan) on Friday, Yonhap reported, at a time of heightened tensions following Pyongyang's recent nuclear test.

A single unit of the North's military test-fired the missiles presumed to be KN-02, estimated to have a range of about 120 kilometres (74 miles), the report said.

"The launch was seen as testing its capability for short-range missiles. It seemed to be conducted on a military-unit level, not at a national level," said a military source in Seoul cited by the South Korean news agency.

The South's defence ministry declined to confirm the report.

The tests came a day after North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un oversaw a live-fire artillery drill near the disputed Yellow Sea border with South Korea, as the South's prime minister visited the flashpoint area.

The area has witnessed bloody North-South clashes in the past and, with military tensions at their highest level for years, is seen as the prime location for another confrontation.

Kim made an inspection tour of the same artillery units last week that was widely covered by state TV and the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

North Korea has threatened to unleash a second Korean War -- backed by nuclear weapons -- in response to UN sanctions imposed after its third atomic test in February and joint South Korea-US military manoeuvres.

So far, the land and sea border dividing the two Koreas has remained calm, if tense, and the South has dismissed the North's threats as a crude attempt to put "psychological pressure" on Seoul.

India's indigenously developed long-range subsonic cruise missile Nirbhay failed to hit its target during its first test flight.

The missile was destroyed by ground control while in flight when after less than half an hour it deviated from the planned flight path and veered toward the coast, Defense Research and Development Organization said in a release.

However, the government's DRDO said the missile, launched in the northeastern state of Odisha, "successfully" met the basic mission objectives and satisfactorily performed some of the maneuvers before termination.

"Nirbhay was successfully launched today at 11:50 a.m. from launch complex, Chandipur, Odisha, meeting the basic mission objectives successfully," DRDO spokesman Ravi Gupta said.

The two-stage missile, capable of being launched from land, sea and air, showed good loitering, control and guidance capabilities, Gupta said.

But ground control decided to destroy the rocket "to ensure coastal safety" after it veered off course.

No injuries were reported at seaside villages in the Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha where missile fragments fell in a cashew nut forest, NDTV reported.

"It was scary as the whole area was filled with smoke after the object crashed. Panic gripped the entire area as news about the incident spread," said Keshab Patra, a villager who saw the debris hit.

Nirbhay is being developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment, a DRDO laboratory in Bangalore and is part of India's ambitious ongoing missile defense program.

Nirbhay -- meaning "fearless" -- was on a 600-mile programmed flight when problems happened, the DRDO said. After the missile had cruised for around 155 miles at an altitude of just less than 3 miles, it started drifting from its path, a report by The Hindu newspaper said.

The 1,000-ton, 19-foot long Nirbhay is a derivative of the Lakshya, a pilotless target aircraft, also developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment.

If the mission had been successful, the missile would have taken up to an hour to cruise its entire range, The Hindu report said.

Other weapons in India's missile defense program include the long-range supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, the short-range surface-to-surface Prithvi ballistic missile, intermediate range surface-to-surface Agni missile, short range low-level surface-to-air Trishul missile and the third-generation, anti-tank Nag missile.

The Nirbhay failure comes after an unsuccessful launch in May of the medium-range surface-to-air Akash.

The flights of the Akash missiles were a routine post-induction test.

Around 3,000 of the 18-foot Akash missiles have been built by Bharat Dynamics and Bharat Electronics since production began in 2009. The missile is guided by a phased-array fire control radar called Rajendra, named after India's first president, Rajendra Prasad.

Defense experts have compared the Akash missile system to the MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile manufactured by Raytheon in the United States.

Similar to the MIM-104, the Akash can attack aerial targets, including unmanned aerial vehicles, fighter jets, cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles, the defense news Web site Defense Professionals said.


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