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Guided Pinaka: A Deep Counter Terror Strike Option

Published Dec 21, 2019
Updated Feb 05, 2020

The DRDO is developing the Pinaka Guided system for deep strikes with accuracy guided by the IRNSS which can be used against terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan in the future.

India is developing guided Pinaka rockets as a deep strike option that could be utilised to target depth zones in the tactical battle area for interdiction as well as to strike at terrorist infrastructure.

On 19 December, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully flight-tested a guided Pinaka rocket referred to as a Missile System from the Integrated Test Range, Chandipur off the Odisha coast.

Importantly the Ministry of  Defence press release indicated that the navigation system of the missile was aided by the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS).

IRNSS will ensure that navigation controls cannot be tampered with as this is an indigenous satellite constellation of seven satellites. IRNSS-1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E, 1F, 1G and 1 L

The IRNSS System is expected to provide a position accuracy of better than 20 m in the primary service area.

On 20 December the DRDO is reported to have conducted a salvo test of the Pinaka.

The rocket has a capability of engaging targets in 20 km to 80 km range with accuracy of < 20 m with the INSAS navigation input.  The all weather, indirect fire, free flight Artillery rocket capable of engaging enemy up to a range 38 km has thus been converted to a guided missile.

The rocket can neutralize an area of 1000x800m in a short period of time with salvo firing. The Indian Army has two Pinaka  regiments with two more sanctioned for induction. 

A Pinaka Regiment comprises of three batteries of six launchers each. Each launcher is capable of firing 12 rockets within 45 seconds.

Thus theoretically a battery can fire a devastating 72 rockets in a minute completely pulverising the depth area.

For conventional operations the Pinaka can be employed for interdicting large scale movement of forces in the depth of the Tactical Battle Area (TBA) – combat as well as logistics.

India is also looking at deep strike options to target terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan which to neutralise the same without collateral damage.

While the Indian Army had launched surgical strikes in the form of deep penetration raids in September 2016, the Indian Air Force had targeted the Jaish e Mohammad terrorist training camp in Balakote in February 2019.

Pakistan has denied substantial losses in such strikes while the IAF attack had led to a counter response by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). In the dogfight, while India claimed the loss of a PAF F 16, while a Mig 21 was lost by the IAF with a Wing Commander held on the other side of the line of control.

Use of accurate missile and rocket systems will obviate the need for risking critical manned assets to penetrate Pakistan territory resulting in escalation, while Pakistan will have limited options to counter the same.