Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher or MBRL systems are considered as the mainstay of the firepower of any ground force as they can cause massive destruction in a matter of minutes. On 04 October 2020, DRDO tested a new and improved Pinaka rocket which enhanced the capability of Indian Pinaka MBRLs. Therefore, after repeated requests from our readers, this Guarding India Exclusive has been dedicated to Pinaka MBRL.
You might continue reading this article or watch our YouTube video on Pinaka MBRL.
Pinaka rocket system is a ‘Made in India’ MBRL system which is used to destroy area targets like enemy ammunition dump, major troop concentration, soft-skinned vehicles, logistics convoys, and large field fortifications.
During the 1980s, the Indian Army had a Russian BM-21 Grad MBRL system with a range of 21 kilometers. For replacing the BM-21 Grad system, the Indian Army asked DRDO to develop a new MBRL system and in 1986 DRDO commenced the development of the Pinaka rocket system.
Surprisingly, in the Hindi language, Pinaka means the “Bow of Lord Shiva” and the Pinaka rocket system of the Indian Army are as destructive as the Bow of Lord Shiva. Pinaka rocket system was first tested during the Kargil war and despite being a developmental system Pinaka outgunned the Russian BM-21 Grad MBRLs and impressed the Indian Army.
Pinaka Rocket system has been designed and developed by the DRDO while two Indian companies Tata Power Company Ltd (TPCL) and Larsen & Toubro (L&T) jointly produce the Pinaka rockets. All Pinaka rocket systems are mounted on the TATRA trucks manufactured by state-owned Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML). These TATRA trucks are highly mobile 8×8 trucks that have immense power and can easily cross all types of terrains with ease.
Each Pinaka rocket launcher has an advanced navigation system that provides the accurate position of the launcher vehicle to the fire control center. These launchers have an Automated Gun Aiming and Positioning System or AGAPS which automatically points the Pinaka launcher in direction of the target and facilitates rapid and accurate firing.
All Pinaka rockets are 214 mm rockets which is a unique caliber used by the Indian Army as BM-21 Grad MBRL system of Indian Army use 122 mm rockets and Indian Smerch MBRL (also from Russia) use 300 mm rockets.
Currently, the Pinaka rocket system has two main versions and it has four kinds of rockets. The first version of the Pinaka system is Pinaka Mark-I which uses Pinaka Mark-I rockets with 37.5-kilometer range Mark-I and Pinaka Mark-I Enhanced rocket with a range of 45 kilometers. The second Pinaka system is the Pinaka Mark-II system uses a newer Pinaka Mark-II rocket with a range of 60-80 kilometers. Besides this Pinaka family has one more rocket that is called Guided Pinaka rocket.
Amongst all there Pinaka rocket variants, the most lethal is the Guided Pinaka rocket which has an MBDA precision guidance kit for enhanced accuracy. The guided Pinaka rocket can act as a guided missile of 55-kilometer range and can destroy any target with pinpoint accuracy.
After covering the history and variants of Pinaka rockets we will now see how Pinaka targets enemy locations. Due to the long-range of the Pinaka rockets, the targeting information for Pinaka rockets is derived from the Indian Army’s Searcher and Heron UAVs along with data collected by the Indian spy satellites and spy planes. This information is directly passed to the fire control center of the Pinaka rocket system.
All Pinaka launchers have 12 readies to fire rockets. These rockets can either be fired together or one by one within 44 seconds. A single Pinaka rocket can completely neutralize 1 square km area. Pinaka rocket battery has six rocket launchers which are connected to battery Command Post that can control all launchers of the battery. Therefore, Pinaka can launch a coordinated attack from its Command Post. This surprise attack launched by Pinaka battery Command Post can completely destroy the enemy as within just 44 seconds one battery fires 72 rockets in just 44 seconds. This massive opening salvo enables a single battery to destroy 1,000 meters × 800 meters during the first strike itself.
Due to this immense firepower, Pinaka rockets are considered as one of the most destructive weapons of the Indian Army. By 2028, the Indian Army plans to induct 22 Regiments of the Pinaka rocket system which will completely replace Russian BM-21 Grad MBRLs. Currently, India produces around 5,000 Pinaka Mark I rockets per year, and by 2021 manufacturing of Pinaka Mark-II launcher vehicles and rockets will also commence.
In the future, India is planning to develop a completely new MBRL system with a 120-kilometer range which has been dubbed as Pinaka Mark-III by Indian media. However, this new MBRL system is yet to be formally named. This new MBRL is being developed using experience gained during the Pinaka program and it will ultimately replace Russian Smerch MBRLs. This new MBRL will be much more accurate than the Chinese PHL-03 MBRL which has a range of 150 km and the Pakistani A-100 MBRLs which can fire up to 100.
Finally, Team Guarding India is confident that in the future DRDO will keep on adding new and refined Pinaka rockets with increasing lethality. These incremental upgrades will ensure that Pinaka rocket systems will remain the mainstay of the Indian Artillery and will deliver immense firepower to defend the Indian mainland.