India Develops Indigenous Short-Range Ballistic Missile
The Indian Defence Ministry has announced the procurement of the indigenous short-range ballistic surface-to-surface (SRBM) missile, known as Pralay. This conventional weapon has been developed in just seven years and will provide the Indian military with additional capabilities in actual battlefield situations. Pralay will join the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile as a key component of India's planned Rocket Force, a concept first proposed by former Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat. It is worth noting that only conventional missiles will be included in the Rocket Force, while nuclear weapons will remain under the control of the Strategic Forces Command.
Background on Pralay Missile
The Pralay missile project was initiated in 2015 and is based on the Prahaar missile program, which was first tested in 2011. Pralay incorporates elements from several missile programs, including the K-series of submarine-launched ballistic missiles and the ballistic defence shield program. It is a canisterized missile with a range of 150-500 kilometers and has been designed to meet the specifications and requirements of the Indian Army.
Comparisons to Other Countries' Missiles
Pralay can be compared to China's Dong Feng 12 and Russia's Iskander missile, which has been used in the on-going conflict with Ukraine. The US Army is also in the process of increasing the range of a similar short-range ballistic missile called the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM).
One aspect that makes Pralay particularly deadly is that it is a quasi-ballistic weapon, meaning that while it follows a largely ballistic trajectory, it is able to manoeuvre in flight. This has been designed to evade interceptor missiles and make it more difficult for modern air defence systems to counter.
Ballistic missiles are initially powered by a rocket or series of rockets in stages, but then follow an unpowered trajectory that arches upwards before descending to reach its target at high speed. Unlike intercontinental ballistic missiles that exit the Earth's atmosphere, short-range ballistic missiles stay within it.
Pralay is powered by a solid propellant rocket motor and incorporates multiple new technologies. It is known for its accuracy and is capable of carrying a conventional warhead of 350-700 kilograms, giving it a significant punitive capability. It can carry a variety of payloads, including a high explosive preformed fragmentation warhead, a penetration-cum-blast (PCB) warhead, and a runaway denial penetration submunition (RDPS) warhead.
Advantages of Pralay and BrahMos Missiles
- When considering the need for a ballistic missile in addition to the already-existing cruise missile, which can be shortened for use in a battlefield setting, it is important to note that both types of missiles have their own distinct advantages.
- While the BrahMos has high agility, stealth, and loitering capability, Pralay has the advantage of speed and is more difficult to counter.
The procurement of the Pralay missile will significantly enhance the war-fighting capabilities of the Indian military and provide a valuable addition to the planned Rocket Force. Its quasi-ballistic capabilities and range of payload options make it a formidable weapon, and it will serve as a valuable asset in actual battlefield situations.