Saturday, 16 July 2011

Prahar India's Answer To Pakistani Nasr

Prahaar, a new quick-reaction, short-range tactical missile, which will fill the gap for a battlefield weapon system in India’s missile arsenal, is all set to be flight-tested on Sunday. It had been under development for the last four years.

The gap that needs to be plugged is between 37.5km (the Pinaka MBRL's range) and the Smwerch-M's quoted range of 90km. And the only way to plug this gap is by procuring 155mm/52-cal self-propelled field artillery howitzers (motorised and tracked) firing rocket-assisted projectiles out to 61.4km, as demonsrated a decade ago by both the Bhim tracked SPH and the Caesar motorized SPH.

The Smerch-M is an area saturation weapon and although it can deliver guided sensor-fuzed munitions, it still does not count as a precision strike weapon. The Indian Army has since 2002 been asking for hypersonic missiles with depressed flight trajectories for high-accuracy (not pinpoint accuracy, mind you) strikes against hostile fixed static targets like POL storage areas (for Brigade- and Divisional-level formations), and transportation infrastructure nodes located along interior lines of communication (consequently making the Prahaar Pakistan-specific).

As such targets are plenty in number, only a limited inventory of 'Prahaars' will be required, like 80 missiles per missile group, which works out to 240 missiles for the three existing missile groups, plus three reload rounds, working out to 720 missiles. In terms of both the cost-benefit ratio and techno-economic matrix, the Prahaar will be extremely cost-effective as it will the free up the IAF's strike aircraft assets to launch strategic and tactical air interdiction sorties, instead of undertaking the extremely hazardous task of battlefield air interdiction. This in turn will dramatically reduce blue-on-blue engagements (which were plenty in the 1965 and 1971 wars) and also dramatically reduce the sensor-to-shooter time-gap that presently prevails as far as the Army's field artillery formations are concerned. In other words, the emphasis is on effects-based operations, and not on the tonnage of TNT dropped in and around the targeted areas.

It has greater accuracy as compared to other unguided missiles India has developed so far with a strike range of 150 km. Moreover, it can handle several targets at once and allow mixture of different kinds of missiles in just one launcher.This solid fueled missile can be launched within 2-3 minutes without any preparation providing significantly better reaction time than liquid fueled Prithvi ballistic missiles.

Terming ‘Prahaar’ as an excellent weapon, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister and DRDO Director- General VK Saraswat said it would be equipped with omni-directional warheads and initially handled by the Indian Army.

The missile appears to be India’s response to Pakistan’s Nasr, a 60-km range tactical nuclear missile which was tested on April 19.

Defence sources said preparation for the first test at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, about 15 km from here, has reached final stage. Weather permitting, the test will be conducted on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the defence authorities have initiated steps to temporarily shift people residing in the 2-km radius of the test range. A meeting in this regard will be convened with the district administration on Friday to decide the pay package for the people to be displaced for a day.