Thursday, July 21, 2011

'Prahaar' missile successfully test-fired

A new surface-to-surface missile called “Prahaar” was successfully test-fired on Thursday for the first time from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, Orissa.

The launch took place at 8.20 a.m. from a road mobile launcher, which is essentially a big truck. The missile traversed its entire range of 150 km in 250 seconds before impacting on the targeted area in the Bay of Bengal with an accuracy of few metres.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) developed Prahaar (meaning “to strike”) in two years, to specifically bridge the gap in the range between the unguided Pinaka rocket, which has a range of 45 km, and the guided Prithvi missile variants, that can take out targets 250 km to 350 km away.

Prahaar carries a 200-kg conventional warhead.

Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister V.K. Saraswat, who watched the launch operations from the Launch Control Centre at the ITR, called it a good launch.

“Prahaar is a unique missile,” he told The Hindu from Chandipur, “because it has high manoeuvrability, very high acceleration and excellent impact accuracy. It will bridge the gap between the multi-barrel rocket system, Pinaka and the Prithvi missiles. Basically, it will be a battlefield support system for the Army.”

A few Prahaar missiles could do the job of many Pinaka rockets, in devastating wide areas, Dr. Saraswat said. It is an all-weather missile that can be launched from canisters. Since it can be fired from a road mobile launcher, it can be quickly transported to different places. It can be deployed in various kinds of terrain such as snow-bound areas or jungles. With its range of 150 km, it is comparable to the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) of the United States, he added.

Prahaar can carry different types of conventional warheads. Six Prahaar missiles can be launched in salvo mode in different directions. The missile has a quick reaction time, that is, it can be launched within a few minutes. It has sophisticated inertial navigation, guidance and electro-mechanical actuation systems. Its onboard computer helps it to home in on the targets with an accuracy of 10 metres.

“We will be proving the missile for different ranges from short to medium ranges,” said Dr. Saraswat, who is also DRDO Director-General and Secretary, Defence R and D. “Today, we covered 150 km. After a couple of more flights, we will be ready for production.”

Prahaar is a single stage missile, propelled by solid fuel. It is 7.3 metres tall, has a diameter of 42 cm and weighs 1.3 tonnes. The missile reaches a height of 35 km before reaching the targets 150 km away.

According to DRDO sources, India's interceptor missile was converted into Prahaar. “That is why it has a range of 150 km,” they said.

The launch was witnessed by Avinash Chander, Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems), DRDO; V.L.N. Rao, Programme Director, Air Defence, DRDO; S.P. Dash, Director, ITR; and Lt. Gen. Vinod Nayanar, Director-General of Artillery.

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