Amid the ongoing conflict with China, the Indian armed forces are now going to acquire the 'Pralay' ballistic missile which can hit targets from 150 to 500 Kms. The proposal moved by the Indian defence forces was cleared during a high-level meeting held a couple of days ago.

The proposal is also important as it comes at a time when the Indian forces are working on the creation of a rocket force which has been in discussion at the highest levels in the Defence Ministry.

Recently, Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar stated that the late Gen Bipin Rawat was working on the creation of a rocket force to counter enemies on the border.

The missile was successfully tested twice on two consecutive days last year in December and since then, the forces are working towards its acquisition and induction.

With a range of 150 to 500 km, 'Pralay' is powered with solid propellant rocket motor and other new technologies.


A rough rendering of Pralay tactical SRBM

A quasi-ballistic missile has a low trajectory and can manoeuvre in flight while primarily ballistic. Pralay will be able to hit a target as far as 400 kilometres away with a 500 kg payload. Pralay was created to counter the Chinese Army’s deployment of the Dongfeng-12 (DF-12) short-range tactical ballistic missile along India’s border. The Dongfeng-12 (DF-12) is believed to have a range of 100-250 kilometres, with a maximum range of 400 kilometres.

The Pralay missile will be a key component of the forthcoming Rocket Force, India’s fourth arm of the armed forces, which will be raised soon. Because of its non-parabolic trajectory, Pralay (havoc, devastation) will be able to strike rapidly and hit valuable targets inside the enemy camp while also evading the air defence system.

Pralay can fly depressed trajectories and vary its flight in the terminal phase because to its jet vane control system (JVC) and tandem fins. Any modern dedicated anti-ballistic missile defence system, as well as any air defence system, will find it nearly hard to intercept a ballistic missile that flies like a subsonic cruise missile inside the atmosphere but at near hypersonic speeds.

Indigenously designed and developed by DRDO, the missile is a derivative of Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV) Exo-atmospheric interceptor missile, capable of destroying enemy weapons at high altitudes. Pralay, which is much faster and accurate, has a strike range of 350 km to 500 km and weighs around five tons. With a payload of 1,000 kg, it can travel a distance of 350 km. If the payload is halved, the missile will be able to hit a target as far as 500 km reported defence journalist Saurav Jha.

Fuelled by composite propellant and developed by Pune-based High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL), it uses inertial navigation system for mid-course guidance. Since India’s most of the SRBMs are for strategic strike purposes, development of tactical Pralay was necessitated after the army sought for a 500-km range SRBM that can carry a sizeable payload.

Like the PDV, Parlay's propulsion system too uses solid fuels that can function in a wide range of temperatures and allow the missile to have a long shelf-life. As such, Pralay is a cannisterised system that will be able to strike targets out to 500 km with a payload of around 800 kg. The canister itself is designed by DRDO’s Advanced Systems Laboratory Saurav Jha further wrote.

While Parlay's on-board inertial navigation system (INS) is capable of receiving multi-constellation satellite updates, the missile is believed to have an accuracy of sub-10 metre CEP even without updates to remove accumulated errors. With its PDV heritage, Pralay will be rather manoeuvrable and capable of quasi-ballistic flight profiles.

Interestingly, if both the PDV and Pralay could be produced in tandem, one could potentially experience greater economies of scale thereby bringing down costs associated with both sets of systems. In a manner of speaking, a part of the total R&D costs of Pralay have in any case been amortised by those expended on developing the PDV interceptor.

‘Change Tactical Battlefield Dynamics’

Former DRDO scientist R.K. Gupta said “Pralay is a game-changer. It will completely change the tactical battlefield dynamics and India will have two conventional missiles with long range. The BrahMos will be a cruise option and this one will be the ballistic option,” he added.

Cruise missiles and ballistic missiles have their own distinct advantages. While cruise missiles have high agility, stealth and even loitering capability, ballistic missiles have the advantage of speed and countering them is a very difficult task even for modern air defence systems.

Sources said that the Pralay missile project was sanctioned in 2015 and is a derivative of the Prahaar missile programme, which was first tested in 2011.

That missile is yet to be inducted since a greater range was sought.

Key Features

1. Pralay a solid-fuel based missile is based on the Prithvi Defence Vehicle from the Indian ballistic missile program and is developed by the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO).

2. The missile has a range of 350-500 KM, a payload of 1000 kilogram and it weighs around 5 tonnes. It can be launched from a mobile launcher, at a short notice. The missile uses an inertial navigation system.

3. Pralay is capable of making the Indian defence system more stronger as it has the capability to target enemy weapons at high altitudes. It also has the ability to change its path after covering a certain range mid-air. Missile is designed for the Indian Army, for its strategic strike missions.

4. The Pralay missile is no less than China's Dongfeng-12 and Russia’s 9K720 Iskander, which are also short-range tactical ballistic missiles.