Major misfire: Why did an Indian missile land in Pakistan?
- An Indian missile landed in Pakistan Wednesday
- India said the firing was due to a technical malfunction
- Pakistan did not intercept the unarmed missile
An Indian missile landed nearly 124 kilometres into Pakistan territory on Wednesday triggering a wave of worries in a politically volatile region. Pakistan first broke the news on Thursday when it said that an unarmed Indian missile landed on their territory. On Friday, the Indian government acknowledged that “technical malfunction led to the accidental firing of a missile.”
Experts say it is extremely rare for a missile test to go wrong. So, what happened here?
While there is limited information on what exactly went wrong, an Indian Express report suggests that the missile changed coordinates mid-air. This is being deemed as extremely surprising because experts are of the opinion that the change of direction while in flight is a striking phenomenon.
“It flew, it took a path, that path was not normal, then it took a different direction, after doing nearly 100 km,” said Anil Chopra, a retired Indian Air Marshal, who currently heads the Centre for Air Power Studies, a policy think tank based out of New Delhi.
Chopra, speaking to the Indian Express, said there are very few reasons for a missile to change direction such. “First thing could be that the coordinates are not correct. But in this particular case, the missile has gone in a particular direction and then turned. If it was wrong coordinates, it should have gone straight there.”
“Because…normally it will turn only in the last stages. So, the type of turn she has taken, that means the coordinates could not have been wrong,” he said.
The other possibility, according to Chopra is, that if somebody used cyber means to jam the missile mid-flight, he conjectured. He added that a missile of the sort comes with a self-destruct switch which could have been deployed when it was realised that it had changed direction.
Could Pakistan have brought it down?
The Pakistan military said the Air Defence Operations Centre of its Air Force picked up a “high-speed flying object” inside Indian flying territory. It said that it was aware that the missile had taken off from Sirsa, and changed its course suddenly towards Pakistan territory.
Tactical actions in accordance with Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), and kept monitoring it as soon as it turned towards Pakistani territory, the country’s military said. It did not intercept the incoming missile, which was unarmed.
What sort of missile was it?
There has been no official confirmation on the kind of missile involved. Pakistan as described the missile as supersonic and unarmed. Experts have speculated that it was a BrahMos, a missile developed jointly by India and Pakistan. Other experts have speculated it could have been a variant of the nuclear capable Prithvi.