India’s tests on new missile system a success

India’s tests on new missile system a success

Mandeep Singh

India conducted a series of successful test firings of an indigenously produced guided-missile system in March 2019.

The newly developed guided Pinaka missile was fired March 11-12, 2019, at the Pokhran test range in the country’s northwest. Developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the system — made entirely in India — demonstrated advanced capabilities in all three tests.

“All the three trials met mission objectives,” reported India’s Ministry of Defense. “The consecutive successful missions of guided Pinaka prove the efficacy, reliability and high-precision capabilities of the weapon system.”

A “state-of-the-art guidance kit” helped enable the successful firings by precisely shepherding the missiles to their targets with an advanced navigation and control system. The path of each missile was tracked and monitored by the kit’s telemetry system.

An earlier version of the Pinaka has been around since the mid-1990s. It is fired from the system’s signature truck-mounted multi-barrel rocket launcher (MBRL), capable of holding 12 missiles. The success of the guided Pinaka marks a milestone in DRDO’s “quest for missile systems focusing on accuracy,” retired Brig. Gen. Rahul Bhonsle told FORUM.

Bhonsle is director of Security Risks Asia, a New Delhi-based security advisory firm.

Pinaka missiles can hit targets at distances ranging from 7 to 75 kilometers, according to DRDO documents. They can be armed with a choice of four different warheads: fragmentation high explosive, incendiary, anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, and small anti-tank bombs.

“The system has capability to strike at both conventional and subconventional targets,” Bhonsle said. “It could be used in the future to strike at terror camps with accuracy. Conventionally, it’s suited for deep strikes into enemy logistics command centers and counterbombing as general support for artillery.”

The Indian Army has two regiments of the earlier Pinaka Mark I, each consisting of three batteries of six Pinaka MBRLs, according to the Indo-Asian News Service. Bhonsle explained that the guided Pinaka could complement India’s existing airstrike capabilities.

The guided Pinaka’s success corresponds with the maturation of Make in India, an initiative launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2014 to encourage domestic manufacturing and investment.

“Given DRDO’s expertise developed in missile technology,” Bhonsle said, “Pinaka forms part of the defense sector’s larger indigenization efforts. There are no concrete plans to offer it to other countries at present, but the DRDO has hinted at multiple occasions that it desires to export Pinaka once the system is completely ready.”

The guided Pinaka may still be a work in progress, Bhonsle indicated, despite its recent achievements. A longer record of consistent success may be required before the system is ready for deployment. He added that DRDO is developing related assets that could be making news of their own soon.

“We should also watch for the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System — not yet deployed — which would be a long-needed replacement for the BOFORS gun,” he said, referring to an imported weapon made by Swedish manufacturer Bofors AB.

Mandeep Singh is a FORUM contributor reporting from New Delhi, India.