THE Indian Army’s three surface-to-air missiles were ‘misfired’ during a firing exercise in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer area, causing alarm in the surrounding areas, according to Indian media reports.

The incident puts a question mark on the safety mechanism in place, as over a year ago India ‘accidentally’ fired a missile into Pakistan.

This time the three missiles were misfired due to a ‘technical glitch,’ India Today reported.

The Indian army was conducting firing exercise at the Pokhran field firing range when the three missiles went out of range and hit the fields in different villages, causing loud explosions, though no loss of life or property was reported.

Defence spokesperson Lt Col Amitabh Sharma said the missiles were misfired during a military exercise. An investigation has been initiated and further action will be taken accordingly.

Missile missing

The debris of two misfired missiles has been recovered but authorities are yet to find the third one. Police and army teams are currently searching for the third missile.

The missiles with range between 10 and 25 kilometres were being test fired by the Indian army but deviated from their path due to a technical fault.

Nachana Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Kailash Vishnoi confirmed the incident and said a missile was found in a field at Ajasar village. The second missile was found in another field. The missile created big craters in the field.

‘Accidental fire’

The BrahMos missile — a nuclear-capable, land-attack cruise missile — was fired on March 9, 2022, prompting Pakistan to seek answers from New Delhi on the safety mechanisms in place to prevent accidental launches.

“A Court of Inquiry, set up to establish the facts of the case, including fixing responsibility for the incident, found that deviation from the Standard Operating Procedures by three officers led to the accidental firing of the missile,” the Indian Air Force had said in a statement.

The Indian government later in August sacked three officers for the ‘accidental fire’. After the incident was reported, the Pakistan Foreign Office had summoned the Indian envoy to register a protest over the unprovoked violation of its airspace, saying such “irresponsible incidents” reflected the neighbouring country’s “disregard for air safety and callousness towards regional peace and stability”.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2023

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