Pralay: Ballistic missile that can dodge air defence missile

Pralay is a canisterised surface-to-surface tactical short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) for battlefield use developed by DRDO of India. The missile is the amalgamation of technologies developed for exoatmospheric interceptor missile Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV) from Indian Ballistic Missile Defence Programme and Prahaar tactical missile.

On 22 December 2021, DRDO conducted the maiden test of Pralay from Abdul Kalam Island. It met all the mission objectives and followed the desired quasi ballistic trajectory reaching the designated target with high degree of accuracy, validating controls, guidance system and mission algorithms.

On 23 December 2021, DRDO conducted second test of Pralay from the Abdul Kalam Island. This is the first time in history that two consecutive tests of conventional ballistic missile like ‘Pralay’ were conducted successfully. The second test concluded with a heavier payload and different range to check the precision and lethality of the missile.

A quasi-ballistic missile has a low trajectory and can manoeuvre in flight while primarily ballistic. Pralay will be able to hit a target as far as 400 kilometres away with a 500 kg payload. Pralay was created to counter the Chinese Army’s deployment of the Dongfeng 12 (DF-12) short-range tactical ballistic missile along India’s border. The Dongfeng 12 (DF-12) is believed to have a range of 100-250 kilometres, with a maximum range of 400 kilometres.

The Pralay missile will be a key component of the forthcoming Rocket Force, India’s fourth arm of the armed forces, which will be raised soon. Because of its non-parabolic trajectory, Pralay (havoc, devastation) will be able to strike rapidly and hit valuable targets inside the enemy camp while also evading the air defence system.

Pralay can fly depressed trajectories and vary its flight in the terminal phase because to its jet vane control system (JVC) and tandem fins. Any modern dedicated anti-ballistic missile defence system, as well as any air defence system, will find it nearly hard to intercept a ballistic missile that flies like a subsonic cruise missile inside the atmosphere but at near hypersonic speeds.

Pralay will also be equipped with an inertial navigation system (INS) and a warhead that weighs less than 800 kilogrammes and has a circular error probable (CEP) of fewer than 10 metres. Pralay will also have an unusual flight profile and the capacity to change directions, making it more unpredictable and increasing the challenge level for Air Defence Systems. The launch platform’s mobility also makes it difficult to halt a launch.

‘Change Tactical Battlefield Dynamics’

Former DRDO scientist R.K. Gupta said “Pralay is a game-changer. It will completely change the tactical battlefield dynamics and India will have two conventional missiles with long range. The BrahMos will be a cruise option and this one will be the ballistic option,” he added.

Cruise missiles and ballistic missiles have their own distinct advantages. While cruise missiles have high agility, stealth and even loitering capability, ballistic missiles have the advantage of speed and countering them is a very difficult task even for modern air defence systems.

Sources said that the Pralay missile project was sanctioned in 2015 and is a derivative of the Prahaar missile programme, which was first tested in 2011.

That missile is yet to be inducted since a greater range was sought.

Key Features

1. Pralay a solid-fuel based missile is based on the Prithvi Defence Vehicle from the Indian ballistic missile programme and is developed by the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO).

2. The missile has a range of 350-500 KM, a payload of 1000 kilogram and it weighs around 5 tonnes. It can be launched from a mobile launcher, at a short notice. The missile uses an inertial navigation system.

3. Pralay is capable of making the Indian defence system more stronger as it has the capability to target enemy weapons at high altitudes. It also has the ability to change its path after covering a certain range mid-air. Missile is designed for the Indian Army, for its strategic strike missions.

4. The Pralay missile is no less than China’s Dongfeng 12 and Russia’s 9K720 Iskander, which are also short-range tactical ballistic missiles.

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