India: Final Countdown to Maiden Test Launch of Pralay SRBM missile
After postponing multiple times the maiden test launch initially scheduled in September 2018 due to Cyclone Phethai, India is now ready to put to the test new tactical surface-to-surface missile Pralay. The nearly 47.5 million dollars missile will reportedly be flight tested from a canister mobile launcher as Navigational Area (NavArea) was issued on the Bay of Bengal and North East Indian Ocean.
Launch of Prithvi missile. (Picture source: DRDO)
The originally classified project for the new short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) was approved in March 2015 and developed by the Research Centre Imarat of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in order to compete with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force's wide range of armed ballistic missiles. "Defence scientists are optimistic about the weapon system as it has the capability to outperform China’s DongFeng-12 and Russia’s 9K720 Iskande tactical missiles", a defence official said.
Pralay is expected to be a faster and more accurate derivative of Prithvi Defence Vehicle exo-atmospheric interceptor missile. Pralay should have an accuracy of sub-10 metre CEP even without updates to correct accumulated errors and has an on-board inertial navigation system (INS) to provide satellite updates. Fuelled by composite propellant developed by High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL), the 5-tonne surface-to-surface missile can hit a target at a 350-km range with 1,000 kg of payload or at a 500-km range with 500 kg of payload. Pralay can be equipped with three types of warheads: pre-fragmented, monolithic and submunition penetration-cum blast (PCB).
Despite several delays due to severe weather conditions, India is thus now all set to test new SRBM Pralay, which is supposed to widen India’s range of armed ballistic missiles to get head-to-head with China’s PLARF.