The induction of anti-tank Nag missile is likely to be delayed further, with three of the four missiles failing to hit the target and the missile’s carrier, Namica, falling short of the Army’s expectations during recent user trails, which were halted midway.
In all, eight trials were planned, between July last week and August 4, with a reconfigured Namica. However, the tests were called off on August 1.
The induction of the missile has already been delayed, with the Army seeking many changes to Namica, after previous trials, to make it lighter and improve its amphibious performance. Hence, two reconfigured vehicles — each developed by L&T and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) — were tested in the Mahajan Field Firing Range in Rajasthan.
Sources in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) attributed the failure to want of proper conditions for the missile’s seeker to lock on and follow the target. Several problems cropped up in the functioning of the automotive systems that were sourced from the Ordnance Factory. However, mobility trials for 300 km of the scheduled 1,000 km were conducted on the two carriers.
The second major hiccup surfaced when one of the two missiles failed to hit the target on July 28. While one, tested for a range of 2,500 metres, hit the target, the second failed to destroy a target 700 metres away, owing to a problem in the seeker.
In the subsequent trials on August 1, two missiles missed the targets positioned at 1300 metres and 2,500 metres.
Disappointed with the failure, the Army wanted DRDO to further ruggedise the Namica and schedule retrials after six months.
The DRDO sources virtually faulted the Army for the failure of the two missiles. There was no adequate thermal contrast for the seeker to lock on and follow the target before the missile was launched.
The Army was clearly told to make sure that the seeker locked on and followed the target before the missile was fired. But, in both the instances, the missiles were fired before the seeker locked on the target.
The missile has a range of four km with ‘top attack’ and ‘fire-and-forget capabilities.’ The ‘top attack’ enables the missile to nullify the explosive-reactive armour of modern battle tanks.
The sources said that more than 50 trials had so far been conducted, and the Army carried out 20 of them. The missile failed only on four or five occasions.