Rain of Fire
Pinaka Mk III – Bringing hell to 120 kms and beyond
It was in 1983, when the GOI has realized the importance and need of an indigenous MBRL (Multi Barrel Rocket Launch) and sanctioned an amount of 26.47 crores to develop one under the BMD (Ballistic Missile Development) program. The development of the original Pinaka started in 1986. This system was originally intended to replace the B-21 Grad of Russian origin.
With the development completed in 1992, the induction started in 1994. During the kargil war, Pinaka saw action and it was highly successful. This success made armed forces place more orders for Pinaka MBRL systems. This Mk1 system used to have a range of 40 kms. Each Pinaka battery consists of six launchers. Each launcher consists of 12 missiles with loader cum replenishment vehicles and the total of 72 missiles from six launchers can be fired with in a time span of 44 seconds.
Pinaka MBRL system can use different types of warheads such as Pre-formed Fragment warheads, incendiary war heads, sub munition war heads which can actually be classified into anti-tank munition, soft target munition and dual purpose ICM war heads and last but not the least, the thermobaric war heads.
The direction of launch can be different for different rockets and this battery can neutralize an area of 1000 x 800 m. This launcher can be operated in different modes such as autonomous, manual, stand-alone and remote modes. The launcher is based on a rebadged TATRA truck which is made by BEML in India. The truck has a central regulation system in which the tyre pressure can be adjusted by the driver based on the terrain. These launchers are NBC protected with their own fore control systems and automatic positioning system.
In autonomous mode, the launcher is fully controlled by a fire control computer (FCC). The microprocessor which is present on the launcher automatically executes the commands received from the FCC, giving the operator the status of the system on displays and indicators.
In this mode the FCC had zero control over the launcher and the operator at the remote enters all the commands required for missile launch.
In this mode the launcher can be controlled via a remote which can be carried away from the launcher up to a distance of 200m and can be used to control the launcher system and unload the fired rocket pods.
This mode is only used when the micro-processor of the system fails and when there is lack of power to operate the launcher system. All the operations including the laying of launcher system and firing can be controlled manually.
The decision to increase the production capacity of Pinaka missiles from 1000 to 5000 annually was taken in March 2012. Ordinance factory of Ambhajari will manufacture these rockets. Tata Power SED and L&T won the orders to produce 40 of these missiles on 29 March 2006.
On December 19 and 20 in 2019, DRDO tested the upgraded 90 km range Pinaka MkII off the coast of Chandipur in Odisha. This missile was developed by various organisations such as DRDO, ARDE, RCI, DRDL, PXE and HEMRL. The mission achieved every objective including the increased range, accuracy and optimum sub-system functionality. This MkII can be guided by Indigenous navigation system, NAVIC. The length of the rocket was increased from 4.95 m to 5.2m in order to achieve the extended range.
As discussed above, Pinaka can carry different types of payloads such as Fragmentation high explosive, Incendiary, Anti-Tank, Anti-Personnel minelettes and Anti-Tank bomblettes. The CEP (Circular Error Probability) of the MkII is at 1-2% of the range according to the reports.
Reports emerged that DRDO and Israeli Military Industries have teamed up recently to implement Trajectory correction systems to Pinaka to further improve the CEP. The success of previous versions of Pinaka made DRDO and other organisations further develop the already successful MKII into MkIII which can cover a range of 120 kms with a payload of 250 kilos. This will make this system similar to Smerch MLRS of Russia with a length of 7.2 m. MkIII variants can also be guided using GPS and DRDO has developed a wraparound micro strip antenna for the MkIII variant. This variant will have a maximum speed of mach 4 which can reach a height of 40 kms before hitting the target at a speed of mach 1.8. Arming the UAVs with Pinaka rockets is also under the pipeline.
Importance of Pinaka system
With recent debacle with china in the Galwan valley and with cease fire violations increasing day- by- day along the borders of China and Pakistan, inducting a system as potent as Pinaka acts as a powerful tool for power projection and give us the capability of destroying the bunkers near the borders from a distance with deadly accuracy keeping enemies at bay.