India’s indigenously-developed medium range sub-sonic cruise missile 'Nirbhay' failed to hit the target in its maiden test flight Tuesday, forcing the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) to terminate the missile mid-way.

Nirbhay (meaning fearless) was launched Tuesday at 11:50 a.m. local time from a mobile launcher positioned in the launch pad 3 of the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, located in Balasore district of Odisha state. 

The surface-to-surface missile deviated from the flight path after taking off from the launch pad, the DRDO sources said, adding that it was not a complete failure as the mission objectives were met.

"The lift-off was successful but the flight had to be terminated halfway. We have not been able to achieve complete range capability, but the mission objectives have been met," the DRDO said in a statement, leading Indian television media, NDTV reported.

Nirbhay, described as an aero plane converted into a sub-sonic cruise missile as it has foldable wings and fins like an aircraft but lifts off like a cruise missile from a rocket launcher, has loitering abilities and is capable of being launched from air, water and land. The missile’s wings gets deployed after it reaches the desired altitude of flying, after which it is highly maneuverable and can be flown at lower levels to avoid radar detection.

"An aircraft has wings and this also has wings. We keep it folded, it lifts off like a missile using a rocket motor, and after the rocket motor finishes its job, it falls down and then the wings get deployed and the gas turbine engine gets kicked in and it becomes like a full aircraft,"  P S Krishnan, Director, Aeronautical Development Establishment, Bangalore told NDTV.

The missile has been developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), a DRDO laboratory based in Bangalore.