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Guided PINAKA : A improved Pinaka multi barrel rocket launcher

Pinaka is a multiple rocket launcher produced in India and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the Indian Army. The system has a maximum range of 40 km for Mark-I and 65 km for Mark-II, and can fire a salvo of 12 HE rockets in 44 seconds. The system is mounted on a Tatra truck for mobility. Pinaka saw service during the Kargil War, where it was successful in neutralising enemy positions on the mountain tops. It has since been inducted into the Indian Army in large numbers.
As of 2014, about 5,000 missiles are being produced every year while an advanced variant is under development with enhanced range and accuracy.

Details –

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Pinaka is a complete MBRL system, each Pinaka battery consists of: six launcher vehicles, each with 12 rockets; six loader-replenishment vehicles; three replenishment vehicles; two Command Post vehicle (one stand by) with a Fire Control computer, and the DIGICORA MET radar. A battery of six launchers can neutralise an area of 1,000 m × 800 m.

The Army generally deploys a battery that has a total of 72 rockets. All the 72 rockets can be fired in 44 seconds, taking out an area of 1 km2. Each launcher can fire in a different direction too. The system has the flexibility to fire all the rockets in one go or only a few. This is made possible with a fire control computer. There is a command post linking together all the six launchers in a battery. Each launcher has an individual computer, which enables it to function autonomously in case it gets separated from the other five vehicles in a war.

Modes of operation

The launcher can operate in the following modes:

Autonomous mode. The launcher is fully controlled by a fire control computer (FCC). The microprocessor on the launcher automatically executes the commands received from the FCC, giving the operator the status of the system on displays and indicators.

Stand-alone mode: In this mode, the launcher is not linked to the FCC operator, and the operator at the console enters all the commands for laying of the launcher system and selection of firing parameters.

Remote mode: In this mode, a remote control unit carried outside the cabin up to a distance of about 200 m can be used to control the launcher system, the launcher site and to unload the fired rocket pods from the launcher.

Manual mode: All launcher operations including laying of the system and firing are manually controlled. This mode is envisaged in the situations where the microprocessor fails or where there is no power to activate the microprocessor-based operator’s console.

The Pinaka was tested in the Kargil conflict and proved its effectiveness. Since then it has been inducted into the Indian Army and series production has been ordered. The Pinaka MBRL is stated to be cheaper than other systems. It costs ₹ 2.3 crore per system compared to the M270 which costs ₹ 19.5 crore.

Salient features

Use of state-of-the-art technologies for improved combat performance
Total operational time optimised for shoot & scoot capability
Cabin pressurisation for crew protection in addition to blast shields
Microprocessor-based fully automatic positioning and fire control console
Night vision devices for driver and crew
Neutralisation/destruction of the exposed troop concentrations, ‘B’ vehicles and other such soft targets
Neutralisation of enemy guns/rocket locations
Laying of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines at a short notice.

Deployment

The Pinaka will be operated in conjunction with the Indian Army’s Firefinder radars and indigenously developed BEL Weapon Locating Radar of which 28 are on order. The Indian Army is networking all its artillery units together with the DRDO’s Artillery Command & Control System (ACCS), which acts as a force multiplier. The ACCS is now in series production. The Pinaka units will also be able to make use of the Indian Army’s SATA (Surveillance & Target Acquisition) Units which have been improved substantially throughout the late 1990s, with the induction of the Searcher-1, Searcher-2 and IAI Heron UAVs into the Indian Army, as well as the purchase of a large number of both Israeli made and Indian made Battle Field Surveillance radars. These have also been coupled with purchases of the Israeli LORROS (Long Range Observation and Sighting System) which is a combination of FLIR/CCD system for long range day/night surveillance.

Presently, 2 regiments of Pinaka have now been inducted by the Army, an additional 2 are on order and the MoD has cleared a RFP for 6 more regiments. The Indian Army has plans to operate a total of 10 regiments by 2022 and increase this to 22 within the next 10 years as the older Grad MLRS regiments are retired.

Mk II Development

Pinaka II, also called Guided Pinaka, is being developed by Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), Pune; Research Centre Imarat (RCI), Hyderabad; and Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad. The Mark II version is equipped with a navigation, guidance, control kit and has considerably enhanced the range and accuracy of the missile.

It was successfully tested at the Chandipur Test Range in January 2013, and on 20 December 2013. On 20-23 May 2016, four rounds of the Pinaka Mk-II were successfully fired from the test range of Proof and Experimental Establishment (PXE) at Chandipur-on-sea for testing a new guidance system. On 12 January 2017 and 24 January 2017, two successful tests was conducted from Launch Complex-III, Integrated Test Range, Chandipur.

Future Plans

The Pinaka is in the process of further improvement. Israel Military Industries teamed up with DRDO to implement its Trajectory Correction System (TCS) on the Pinaka, for further improvement of its CEP. This has been trialled and has shown excellent results. The rockets can also be guided by GPS to improve their accuracy. A wraparound microstrip antenna has been developed by DRDO for this system.

While the Pinaka will not be developed further into a larger system, its success and the experience gained from the programme has led the ARDE and its partner organisations, to launch a project to develop a long range MRL similar to the Smerch MLRS. A 7.2-metre rocket for the Pinaka MBRL, which can reach a distance of 120 km and carry a 250 kg payload will be developed. These new rockets can be fired in 44 seconds, have a maximum speed of mach 4.7, rise to an altitude of 40 km before hitting its target at Mach 1.8. Integrating UAVs with the Pinaka is also in the pipeline, as DRDO intends to install guidance systems on these rockets to increase their accuracy. Sagem completed delivery of its Sigma 30 laser-gyro artillery navigation and pointing system to be equipped with the Pinaka multiple launch rocket system in June 2010. The Sigma 30 artillery navigation and pointing system is designed for high-precision firing at short notice.

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