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India’s DRDO successfully test-fires upgraded Pinaka rocket artillery

Pinaka 214 MM MULTI BARREL ROCKET LAUNCHER SYSTEM. (Hemant.rawat1234, Wikimedia Commons/Released)
August 29, 2020

On Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, India’s Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO) demonstrated it’s newly upgraded Pinaka 214 Multi Barrel Rocket Launching system (MBRL) at the Pokhran field firing range.

The Times of India reported the rocket launcher system can hit targets 60 km (37.3 miles) away in its base configuration, but the new modifications have doubled the range of the rocket artillery system, allowing it to hit targets up to 120 km (74.6 miles) away. The modified rocket launcher also now has guidance and navigation features not present on the base version.

The newly upgrade rocket artillery system comes amid India’s efforts to decrease reliance on foreign suppliers and produce more defense equipment in India. The rocket artillery system was fully manufactured by a private Indian company.

With the upgrades to the weapon system’s firepower and accuracy, the Pinaka launcher will give added firepower to the Indian Army.

The non-upgraded version of the Pinaka rocket launcher has seen use in 1999 in the Kargil war with Pakistan to target enemy outposts beyond the established Line of Control demarking Pakistan and India’s respective territory in the Kashmir region. By extending the weapon system’s range to around 120 km, the new upgrades virtually double the range of the weapon that was used in the war more than 20 years ago.

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Six of the rocket launchers were fired as part of the final development tests, recently completed at the Pokhran firing range.

The Pinaka rocket launcher has the capacity to fire 12 guided rockets in 44 seconds. The rockets used by the launcher are manufactured by Economic Explosives Ltd. (EEL) and is also the first munition of its kind to be manufactured by India’s private sector.

Prior to the development of these launchers, munitions were imported or manufactured by the public sector and India’s armed forces raised repeated complaints about the weapon system’s malfunctions. Now, as a part of the military’s “Make In India” effort and the push to involve the private sector in defense manufacturing, India may be able to rely on domestic manufacturing to supply the systems and the munitions they fire.

In 2017, India placed orders with L&T and Tata Aerospace and Defence for two more Pinaka rocket artillery regiments, at an estimated cost of Rs 4,500 Crore. The companies are still working to fill the 2017 orders.

The “Make in India” effort comes amid pressure on India’s borders with both China and Pakistan. India is increasing it’s domestic weapon production capability and is testing numerous new and upgraded weapons to add to its arsenal.