By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 13th Jan 17
On Thursday, at Chandipur, Odisha, the successful test firing of a Pinaka guided rocket moves the army closer to having the ability to pulverise terrorist camps or enemy units that are 70 kilometres away.
The Pinaka is an indigenous “multi-barrelled rocket launcher” (MBRL). It consists of 12 tubes mounted on a high-mobility Tatra vehicle, each of which fires a rocket. These can be fired in a salvo, less than four seconds apart. A battery, with six Pinaka launchers, fires 72 rockets in 44 seconds.
The salvo effect is critical, bringing down immense firepower on the target before enemy troops can take cover.
“The test-firing has met all mission objectives. The radars, electro-optical and telemetry systems at Chandipur tracked and monitored the vehicle all through the flight-path”, said the defence ministry after the test.
So far, the unguided version of the Pinaka could engage targets 38 km away. Now, the guided version, called the Pinaka Mark II, almost doubles that range.
The army is keen on inducting the Pinaka quickly and in large numbers, especially after tensions escalated on the Line of Control (LoC) last year. In November, the defence ministry bought two regiments (18 launchers each) of the Pinaka Mark I for Rs 3,230 crore, supplementing two regiments bought earlier.
Now, however, the Pinaka Mark II will take centre stage. In this, each individual guided rocket is guided separately, with an on-board computer calculating its flight path, and a transmitter and receiver on the launcher sending signals to keep it on path. Every 20 microseconds, a navigation device calculates the rocket’s position and sends a path correction message through the radio link.
To correct its flight path, the rocket is shifted through thrust vectors, i.e. gases coming out from the propulsion system through nozzles.
“The Pinaka Rocket Mark-II, which evolved from Pinaka Mark-I is equipped with a navigation, guidance and control kit and has been transformed to a Guided Pinaka. This conversion has considerably enhanced the range and accuracy of Pinaka”, said a defence ministry release.
The Pinaka Mark II can fire a single rocket, or a specified number of rockets. The launcher can be loaded with a mix of guided and unguided rockets. If the commander wants to fire a single guided rocket at a target, the system will sense which position is loaded with a guided rocket. The firing circuit will automatically select that position.
The Pinaka has been designed and developed by the Armament Research & Development Establishment, Pune (ARDE), the DRDO’s most prolific laboratory, which has already inducted more than Rs 40,000 crore worth of arms and ammunition into service.
The ARDE’s budget is barely one per cent of the DRDO’s annual budget; it has five per cent of the DRDO’s total manpower; but 70 per cent of the equipment the Ordnance Factories (OFs) are manufacturing for the army has been developed by ARDE.
The Pinaka, however, is not built by the OFs, but by two private sector companies: Larsen & Toubro, and Tata Power (Strategic Engineering Division), who are the designated “original equipment manufacturers” (OEMs) for the Pinaka system.