New, lethal Pinaka scores bulls-eye in testing - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Tuesday 24 January 2017

New, lethal Pinaka scores bulls-eye in testing

The guided Pinaka, with a range of 75-80 km and accuracy of 25 metres, will enhance Indian firepower

By Ajai Shukla
ARDE, Pune
Business Standard, 25th Jan 17

At the peak of the 1999 Kargil conflict, when the army was using all the firepower it could muster to pulverise Pakistani positions as Indian soldiers clawed their way up the steep, exposed mountainsides towards them, a new, secret weapon entered action for the very first time.

The Pinaka multi-barrelled rocket launcher (MBRL) became the first Indian prototype weapon, then still being developed by the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO), to be used in actual combat. While the television crews covered the GRAD BM-21 rocket launcher hurling its fiery bolts towards Tiger Hill, the Pinaka --- more accurate, lethal and with a far longer range --- was proving its mettle away from the cameras.

This has never been revealed until now. Nor, the fact that Pakistani mortar fire wounded a young DRDO scientist who was operating the Pinaka. Like a soldier, he continued firing until that operation was over.

On Tuesday, at Chandipur, on the Odisha coast, the DRDO successfully test-fired a lethal guided Pinaka rocket than will multiply the system’s capability manifold. While the Pinaka Mark I rockets that currently equip two regiments of the Indian artillery (with two more regiments under production) can destroy targets up to 37.5 kilometres (km) away, the guided Pinaka rocket will accurately strike targets at over twice that distance.

Furthermore, while the existing, unguided, free flight Pinaka rockets can be used only against area targets (typically, an infantry position spread out across 500 metres), the guided Pinaka strikes targets with pinpoint accuracy.

In the two tests conducted so far --- the first on January 12 and a second today --- the guided Pinaka has struck targets over 60 km away with an accuracy of 25 metres.

“The mission met all the objectives. The radars, electro optical and telemetry systems at ITR Chandipur tracked and monitored the vehicle all through the flight path”, said a DRDO release today.

That provides the Indian military with an ideal weapon for striking terrorist camps across the Line of Control (LoC) with pinpoint accuracy, eliminating the need to risk soldiers crossing the border on “surgical strikes”.

The Pinaka would be equally effective in supporting attacks under the army’s “Cold Start” plan, which involves capturing enemy positions in lightning strikes before they can be reinforced. The volume and precision of firepower that a Pinaka regiment brings down would stun defenders and leave attacking forces with an easy task.

The Pinaka rocket delivers 100 kilograms of high explosive onto the target. Each Pinaka launcher has 12 rockets in its tubes, which can all be fired within 44 seconds. That means a Pinaka battery, which has six launchers, can pummel a target with 7.2 tonnes of high explosive in just 44 seconds.

The Pinaka rocket’s “pre-formed fragmented” (PF) warhead is a masterpiece in lethality. The blast of high explosive when it strikes the target breaks the warhead’s casing into 21,000 high-density, tungsten alloy spears that hurtle across the target area, tearing through anything in their paths.

For a briefing on the technology in the new, guided Pinaka, Business Standard visited the Armament R&D Establishment (ARDE) in Pune, the DRDO laboratory that has masterminded its development.

While the Pinaka Mark I, and the longer-range Mark II that followed it, are free-flight rockets that follow a ballistic path, much like a stone lobbed towards a target. In contrast, each guided Pinaka rocket has an on-board computer calculating its flight trajectory and location, using the US Global Positioning System (GPS), the Russian GLONASS or the Indian GAGAN --- whichever is most convenient. When the rocket deviates from its desired trajectory, aerodynamic canards on the rocket body are manipulated to bring it back on track.

The Pinaka programme is an exercise in collaboration, says Dr KM Rajan, who heads ARDE. Setting a precedent, the DRDO cooperated with two private sector firms, Larsen & Toubro; and Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division) to build the launcher and the command posts that control its operations. Ordnance Factory Chanda, near Nagpur, builds the Pinaka rockets and warheads. Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) builds the Tatra high mobility vehicles on which the system is mounted, as well as its mobile logistics systems.

The Pinaka constitutes an unalloyed DRDO triumph, with the Mark I costing just Rs 55 crore to develop. That economical effort will result in the induction of 22 Pinaka Mark I regiments into the army, at a cost of Rs 61,000 crore. Of these, two are already in service, two more contracted, and another 10 cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security. 


  1. Great work by DRDO.....and wouldn't it be better if private sector is given a stake in ordnance factories so as to improve upon its efficiency?

  2. Why will all 22 regiments be of Pinaka Mark 1? Won't the army start ordering Mark 2 and the guided Mark 2 versions going forward?

  3. Did you mean MK.II here?
    "The Pinaka constitutes an unalloyed DRDO triumph, with the Mark I costing just Rs 55 crore to develop. That economical effort will result in the induction of 22 Pinaka Mark I regiments into the army, at a cost of Rs 61,000 crore. Of these, two are already in service, two more contracted, and another 10 cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security."

  4. good news for indian army, we must progress the clearances at the fastest pace possible. can't wait for years of trials and decades on induction. the private sector has the capacity and OFB order books are full hence this is a golden opportunity to establish steady production rate in our factories or establish new ones to ensure that all borders have this equipment. Once we place bulk orders automatically the lobbying will end and focus will go into other areas.

  5. This is Mk2 rocket for Pinaka 1 Anonymous at 15:59.

    The Mk 2 Pinaka range is probably like SMERCH range.

  6. Most probably the versions like Mk-1, MK-II, MK Guided etc are rockets or rocket variants. Seems everything else remains the same with modifications or improvements. So those regiments that are coming up will be able to fire the type of rockets they prefer to fire, most probably every production from now on will be Mk-II and Mk-II guided. Waiting for the 300 mm Pinaka-III to start work on.

  7. The Navigation of guided Pinaka is driven by G3oM. This small GPS-GLONAS-GAGAN on Module is integrated by RCI with inertial sensors giving accuracy of less than 25m over 65 Km distance. Great work by our DRDO scientists.

  8. For some reason Pinaka invokes the memory of Katyusha, the lethal rockets operated by Soviets during WWII. I realise those were barely 5℅ in firepower and range, but a few questions nevertheless:

    1. Katyusha was truck-mounted, which meant it could evade detection after attack. Is there some such arrangement for Pinaka?

    2. A single batch of Katyusha could be fired quickly, but the problem lay in reloading a fresh batch, which took a long time. Is there any info on reloading time for Pinaka?

  9. Very informative article Thanks !

  10. Congratulations to DRDO, on a job 'excellently' done. From a Development point of view it has all the good points, Usage of Private Players, Usage of GAGAN, Cost effective and lastly but the foremost of it all the dedication of that young DRDO scientist who like a soldier fought, to develop the Pinaka, even braving enemy fire at it.

    I hope the team gets awarded, rewarded and gets promoted to senior leadership positions.

    I do have a question with regards to a feature.

    Since the Pinaka has GPSs and im assuming a mission computers for targeting, can different individual weapon systems be geographically dispersed while conducting fire missions ?

    This is important because the Pakistan Army has the ability to determine the origin of fire missions, thanks to their US Made ANTPQ 37 Firefinder Radars which they acquired from US (much before we did) and conduct quick counter battery fire, as was evidenced in Kargil war.

    Having geographically dispersed Individual weapon systems will reduce the ability of being tracked or even the enemies ability to target batteries, which traditionally are located together.

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