February 21, 2013

Ahead of Nirbhay launch, DRDO staff gagged

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Bangalore, has launched probably one of the most secretive operations in recent times ahead of the upcoming maiden test of Nirbhay, a subsonic cruise missile.
Sources confirmed to Express on Wednesday that the missile has reached the Interim Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur in Odisha after its long journey from Bangalore by road. The tentative launch date is now fixed for March 10 and the campaign activities will enter the last lap in the coming days.
But DRDO officials in Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad have gone into a shell, working on a common script and refusing to reveal any details of the launch.
“The DRDO headquarters had to answer some queries recently over too many sensitive matters appearing in the media. These are national programmes and the DRDO has been told to adopt a tied-tongue policy,” a top official with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.
The Services too have expressed their displeasure of too many DRDO officials interacting with the media, ahead of critical launches.
Nirbhay will have its maiden test from a mobile launcher with a pre-designed target set in the sea. Sources said that the R&D Engineers, Pune, a specialised arm of DRDO, have completed making changes on the launcher.
The missile was originally scheduled to be tested in October 2012, but last-minute changes on the launcher brought in delays.
With an ability to travel at a speed of 0.7 Mach and perform multiple manoeuvres, Nirbhay is the first full-fledged missile being developed in Bangalore.
Designed and developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment, Nirbhay is a two-stage missile with a range of about 1,000 km



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