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Explained: Indian armed forces may deploy ‘Pralay’ missile along Pakistan, China border

New Delhi, IndiaEdited By: Nishtha BadgamiaUpdated: Dec 26, 2022, 05:28 PM IST
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Pralay is a Hindi word which means “apocalypse” or “to cause great destruction” or “damage”. (File Photo) Photograph:(ANI)

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The missile is designed to destroy enemy radar, communication installations, command centres and airfields and follows a Quasi Ballistic Trajectory which means the object takes a low curved path after being shot.

After the recent skirmish along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China, the former may have approved the procurement of over 100 ‘Pralay’ ballistic missiles. The indigenously developed surface-to-surface missiles will likely be deployed near India’s borders with China and Pakistan. 

“A high-level meeting of the Defence Ministry cleared the acquisition of around 120 missiles for the armed forces and their deployment along the borders,” said a report by ANI citing senior defence sources. Additionally, it also suggests that the missiles will first be provided to the Indian Air Force followed by the Indian Army. 

This comes after India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully conducted the maiden flight test of the Pralay missile last year. If confirmed, this would also mark the first time that the Defence Ministry has cleared the use of ballistic missiles in tactile roles. 

What are some of the notable features of the ‘Pralay’ missile?

Developed by the DRDO, the ‘Pralay’ ballistic missile is a canisterised tactical, surface-to-surface, and short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) for battlefield use. It can hit targets from a distance of 150 to 500 km and is extremely difficult to intercept by enemy interceptor missiles, said a report by ANI. It added that the missile is being further upgraded and its range can be extended significantly. 

Pralay is a Hindi word which means “apocalypse” or “to cause great destruction” or “damage”. The missile is designed to destroy enemy radar, communication installations, command centres and airfields and follows a Quasi Ballistic Trajectory which means the object takes a low curved path after being shot. Furthermore, in addition to its high accuracy, the missile can also change direction and range after being launched up to a certain distance. 

Pralay is powered by a solid fuel rocket motor and is a high explosive preformed fragmentation warhead that weighs somewhere between 350 kg to 700 kg which also accounts for its Penetration-Cum-Blast (PCB) and Runaway Denial Penetration Submunition (RDPS). It also has a speed of at least 2,000 km per hour and its missile guidance system includes state-of-the-art navigation and integrated avionics. 

Additionally, like most tactical ballistic missiles it is mobile which means it can be used quickly on the battlefield. Pralay also has the ability to evade any anti-ballistic missile (ABM) interceptors by performing mid-air manoeuvres by using a manoeuvrable re-entry vehicle. When a high-explosive warhead, like the one Pralay missile is equipped with, explodes, its pieces are thrown at a high speed which can inflict heavy damage. 

Furthermore, the PCB bomb in the tactical ballistic missile is meant to blast through underground targets like military bunkers while the RDPS bombs damage airport runways rendering them useless for flights to take off or land. The surface-to-surface missile is also reportedly intended to match China’s Dong Feng 12 (CSS-X-15) missile and can be compared to the Russian 9k 720 Iskander missile or the US Army’s Precision Strike Missile (PrSM). 

What has happened till now?

The DRDO began developing the Pralay missile in 2015 after being pushed for by the late General Bipin Rawat who served as India’s Chief of Army Staff. It was tested twice on two consecutive days, December 21 and December 22, last year. The launch took place from the APJ Abdul Kalam Island and met all the mission objectives, said the DRDO after which it was deemed a successful launch. 

The second launch tested Pralay with a heavier payload and a different range, “to prove the precision and lethality of the weapon”, said the DRDO. They added that the launch on December 22 was also monitored by a range of sensors and instruments including telemetry, radar, and electro-optic tracking system deployed across the eastern coast and the downrange ships positioned near the impact point. 

Last week, ANI quoting defence sources had also claimed that the proposal for procurement of the Pralay missile has been moved up to an advanced stage and is scheduled to be taken up for clearance this week by the government. This also comes after India recently permitted the use of ballistic missiles in tactical roles. Therefore, the acquisition of these ballistic missiles is considered a significant development for the nation.  

(With inputs from agencies) 

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