An advanced version of the DRDO-developed Pinaka today successfully flights tested from Integrated Test Range, Chandipur off the coast of Odisha. A total of 6 rockets were launched in series and all the tests met complete mission objectives. All the flight articles were tracked by range instruments such as telemetry, radar & Electro-Optical Tracking Systems which confirmed the flight performance. An enhanced version of the Pinaka rocket would replace the existing Pinaka Mk-I rockets which are currently under production. Pinaka rockets, named after the bow of Lord Shiva, are part of the multi-barrel rocket launcher system which are already in the army have been successfully deployed in operations in both China and Pakistan
The origin of Pinaka rocket system
In the battlefield, long-range artillery systems like Pinaka are used for attacking the adversary targets prior to the close-quarter battles which involve smaller range artillery, armored elements, and the infantry.
The development of the Pinaka was started by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in the late 1980s, as an alternative to the multi-barrel rocket launching systems of Russian make, called the ‘Grad’, which are still in use.
After successful tests of Pinaka Mark-1 in late 1990, it was first used on the battlefield during the Kargil War of 1999, quite successfully. Subsequently, multiple regiments of the system came up over the 2000s.
The salvo of Pinaka, its versions, and capabilities
The Pinaka, which is primarily a multi-barrel rocket system (MBRL) system, can fire a salvo of 12 rockets over a period of 44 seconds. One battery of the Pinaka system consists of six launch vehicles, accompanied by the loader systems, radar, and links with network-based systems and a command post. One battery can neutralize an area one kilometer by one kilometer. As a key tactic of long-range artillery battle, the launchers have to ‘shoot and scoot’ to ensure they themselves do not become the targets, especially due to its backblast. Thus the launcher vehicles are required to have a high degree of maneuverability.
The Mark-I version of Pinaka has a range of around 40 kilometers and the Mark-II version can fire up to 75 kilometers. Over the late 2010s, multiple successful tests of the Mark-II version have been carried out by the DRDO latest ones taking place this month at Pokhran.
The Mark-II version of the rocket has been modified as a guided missile system by integrating it with the navigation, control, and guidance system to improve the end accuracy and increase the range. The navigation system of the missile is linked with the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System. In comparison to artillery guns, rockets are less accurate, but with the addition of guidance and navigation systems, this aspect is taken care of.
With its upgrades, the Pinaka Mark-II can be a key element in the “network-centric warfare”. The rocket system can operate various modes and can carry different types of warheads.
The latest acquisition
At the time when India is facing hostilities on both fronts, the announcement enhancing the long-range artillery capabilities can be looked as a strong signal to the adversaries.
The acquisition wing of MoD has on Monday signed contracts with public sector entity Bharat Earth Movers Ltd and private players Tata Power Company Ltd (TPCL) and Larsen & Toubro (L&T) for the supply of six Pinaka Regiments to the Regiment of Artillery of the Indian Army at an approximate cost of Rs 2,580 crore.
“These six Pinaka regiments comprise 114 launchers with Automated Gun Aiming and Positioning System (AGAPS) and 45 Command Posts to be procured from TPCL and L&T and 330 vehicles to be procured from BEML. These six Pinaka Regiments will be operationalized along the Northern and Eastern Borders of our country further enhancing the operational preparedness of our armed forces. Induction of six Pinaka regiments is planned to be completed by 2024,” a statement from the MoD said.
The ministry has called this step a major boost to ‘Make in India.’ “This is a flagship project showcasing public-private partnership under the aegis of Government of India (DRDO and MoD) enabling ‘Aatmnirbharta’ in cutting edge Defence technologies,” it said.