Science & Tech

Pralay: India’s first tactical quasi-ballistic missile

The Defence Ministry has decided to station surface-to-surface ‘Pralay’ ballistic missiles developed in-house near India’s borders with China and Pakistan.

What exactly are Tactical Missiles?

  • Short-range missiles are classified as tactical, while long-range missiles are classified as strategic.
  • A tactical missile is one that is used to destroy tactical enemy targets such as bunkers, mortar positions, artillery positions, and so on.
  • Battlefield missiles are tactical, whereas long-range missiles aimed at larger targets such as cities are strategic.

These missiles have the following characteristics:

  • Tactical missiles have a range that is somewhere between long-range rockets and short-range ballistic missiles, with a typical range of 100 to 200 kilometers.
  • Extreme precision and accuracy: These missiles are extremely precise and can destroy small, steady, and moving targets with pinpoint accuracy.

‘Pralay’ Missile

  • Pralay is a Hindi word that means “apocalypse” or “great destruction” or “damage”.
  • The Pralay missile project, which was approved in 2015, is a development of the Prahaar missile programme, which was first tested in 2011.
  • The DRDO-developed ‘Pralay’ ballistic missile is a tactical, surface-to-surface, and short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) for battlefield use.
  • It can hit targets from 150 to 500 kilometres away and is extremely difficult to intercept by enemy interceptor missiles.
  • Pralay is a high explosive preformed fragmentation warhead that weighs between 350 and 700 kg and is powered by a solid fuel rocket motor.
  • It also accounts for its PCB and RDP (Runaway Denial Penetration Submunitions) (RDPS).

Unique features

  • Precise targeting: The missile is designed to destroy enemy radar, communication installations, command centers, and airfields.
  • Quasi Ballistic Trajectory: When an object is shot, it follows a low curved path.
  • Pralay has the ability to avoid anti-ballistic missile (ABM) interceptors by performing mid-air maneuvers with a maneuverable re-entry vehicle.
  • Destruction capability: When a high-explosive warhead, such as the one carried by the Pralay missile, explodes, its pieces are thrown at high speeds, inflicting heavy damage.

What makes Pralay lethal?

  • The Indian missile is similar to China’s Dong Feng 12 and Russia’s Iskander missile, both of which have been used in the ongoing conflict with Ukraine.
  • The US Army is working to extend the range of a similar short-range ballistic missile known as the Precision Strike Missile (PrSM).
  • Pralay is lethal because it is a quasi-ballistic weapon, which means that, while it has a low trajectory and is mostly ballistic, it can manoeuvre in flight.
  • Short-range ballistic missiles, as opposed to intercontinental ballistic missiles, remain within the Earth’s atmosphere.

Way ahead

  • Pralay, along with the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, will form the crux of India’s planned Rocket Force — a concept that was envisaged by former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), the late General Bipin Rawat.
  • Only conventional missiles would come under the planned Rocket Force as and when it’s ready, while nuclear weapons would continue to be under the ambit of the Strategic Forces Command.
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