Even as the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) put a couple of missile tests on hold ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign tour, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) plans to go ahead with the third test of home-grown cruise missile Nirbhay on October 16.

While the indigenously developed sub-sonic cruise missile’s first test on March 12, 2013 was a failure, second test on October 17 last year was successful.

Nirbhay, which is compared to America’s Tomahawk missile, is slated to be fired from the launching complex-III of Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur off Odisha coast.

Most of the DRDO bigwigs are at the ITR for the test. The Prime Minister is slated to inaugurate an exhibition-cum-seminar at DRDO headquarters in New Delhi on Thursday and Nirbhay trial is on Friday, said sources.

While India is yet to have its own technology to develop supersonic or hypersonic cruise missiles, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) prohibits the signatories from providing technology to any other country developing a cruise missile with a range greater than or equal to 300 km.

The decision to conduct this test has at a time when the scheduled tests of nuke-capable ballistic missile Agni-4 and AAD interceptor missile were deferred apprehending their impact on Modi’s recent foreign tour has been questioned.

A top DRDO scientist on condition of anonymity questioned how was Nirbhay given the ‘go ahead’ when the PMO and National Security Advisor (NSA) instructed them not to carry out other tests. For Nirbhay, the PMO has not been taken into confidence, he claimed adding that DRDO Chief and Project Director of the missile usually take decision for the tests. Director General, DRDO, Selvin Christopher did not respond to phone calls of this paper.

Confirming that the test is on schedule, DG (Aeronautics) K Tamilmani, who arrived here on Tuesday, said the missile will be launched after the range readiness and missile integration are properly checked.