August 2, 2010

Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher

Pinaka MBRL

The Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher System, is a state of the art weapon for destroying/neutralising enemy troop concentration areas, communication centres air terminal complexes, gun/rocket locations and for laying mines by firing rockets with several warheads from launcher vehicle. High operational mobility, flexibility and accuracy are the major characteristics, which give Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher System an edge in modern artillery warfare.

Pinaka saw service during the Kargil War, where it was successful in neutralizing enemy positions on the mountain tops. It has since been inducted into the Indian Army in large numbers.


The Indian Army operates the Russian BM-21 'Grad' Launchers. In 1981, in response to the Indian Army's need to a long range artillery system, the Indian Ministry of Defence sanctioned two competence building projects. In July 1983, the Army formulated their General Staff Qualitative Requirement (GSQR) for the system, with planned induction of one Regiment per year from 1994 onwards. This system would eventually replace the Grads.

Development began in December 1986, with a sanctioned budget of Rs 26.47 crore. The development was to be completed in December 1992. Pune-based DRDO laboratory, Armament Research and Development Establishment was the lead laboratory for the development of the system.

The indigenously built Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launcher Weapon Area System can fire rockets with a range of 39-40 km, in a salvo of 12 rockets with 1.2 tons of high explosives within 40 seconds. The complete system comprises a launch vehicle, a loader / replenishment vehicle, and a command post vehicle with a battery of six launchers, replenishment vehicle (RV), DIGICORA MET radar, and rocket system with various warheads and fuses.. Pinaka can neutralise a target area of 350 square kilometres, and is meant as a supplement to the existing artillery system at a range beyond 30 km. It can be fitted with a variety of warheads ranging from blast-cum-pre-fragmented high explosives to anti-tank mines. This indigenously designed MLRS is far cheaper than the international competition, costing just Rs 23 milli

on per system. By comparison the American M270 MLRS costs Rs 195 million, and the 9P140 URAGAN of Russia and the ASTROS-II of Brazil each cost Rs 38 million.

The Indian Army felt the need for a weapon system which could soften or defeat targets between a certain range. The Ministry sanctioned two competence build up projects in 1981 for Rs 1.94 crore. Army formulated their General Staff Qualitative Requirement for the system in July 1983. They planned to induct certain number of regiments into service at the rate of one regiment per annum, equipped with the system, from 1994 onwards so that the existing system which had range limitation of 20 km could be replaced with the latest state of the art system. The Ministry issued sanction in December 1986 to develop the system at Rs 26.47 crore excluding cost of manpower. The development was to be completed in December 1992.

The General Staff Qualitative Requirement prescribed that the system should attain a certain maximum range and th

e circular error probability should not exceed 1 to 2 per cent of range. The system was to incorporate a twelve tube cluster configuration capable of firing a salvo in five to six seconds and neutralise the specified area by a salvo from six launchers. The entire operation of loading of one salvo from the replenishment vehicle to the launcher was required to be completed within four to five minutes. Eight types of warhead for different target effects were to be developed. The fabrication and delivery of different components of the system were to match User Trials to be conducted in two phases to be concluded by December 1993.

The Pune-based Armament Research and Development Establishment has successfully produced the 'Pinaka' Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher System for the Indian armed forces, to give it concentrated high volume firepower to destroy enemy targets as demanded by the top brass of the Indian army. The Pinaka system was tested at the interim test range (ITR) Chandipur-on-sea, and had undergone several tests since 1995. It has been subjected to user's trials by the Army, which was not entirely satisfied with the system, and additional tests were conducted in response to suggestions to improve its capability further. In March 1999 the system was tested in the run-up to the country's largest ever air force exercise over the site of India's 1998 underground nuclear blasts, at the eastern Indian missile launch site of Balasore. Pinaka was finally put into field testing for assessing its capability during the Kargil conflict. Pinaka reportedly proved very successful during field testing in the high altitude conflict in Kargil.

In mid-1998 it was reported that production is on at various ordnance factories, and four public sector undertakings would meet the December 1998 delivery deadline. But in May 1999 the Comptroller and Auditor General criticized the Defence Research and development Organisation (DRDO) for its failure to develop critical components of Pinaka, which led to a six-year delay in the induction of the system. Far from reaching the production stage, the DRDO has yet to develop various critical components of the system despite an expenditure of Rs 42.45 crore. The Defence Ministry in 1981 had planned to induct “Pinaka” into Indian Army regiments by 1994, and the project was originally given a Rs 26.47 crore budget. The expected date of completion of development is late 2000 at a cost of around Rs 80 crore.

The rocket developed by Armament Research and Development Establishment could achieve only 82 per cent in terms of range. For achieving the desired range the configuration of rocket will have to be changed from 214 mm calibre to 240 mm. The Army had stipulated that the calibre of rocket could be anywhere between 210 and 250 mm. Armament Research and Development Establishment erred in the decision to design the system around 214 mm calibre. The Army agreed to accept the system by reducing the range to ensure early availability of the system. Armament Research and Development Establishment, however, could not deliver the system even with the reduced range as of December 1998. With a lower range, the survivability of the system would be lowered and targets in depth would be beyond reach.

The Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) has also developed a high performance artillery rocket system which can fire within a range between 70 km to 100 km. This is a highly sophisticated "shoot-and-scoot" high mobility system capable of firing a salvo of 12 rockets, each with a payload of 100 kg within a time span of 30 seconds. This new artillery rocket system comprises of an advanced family of warheads including terminally guided submunitions with autonomous target search and engagement capability besides remotely delivered intelligent bomblets and minelets with self-neutralising capability.

In the trials conducted in June 1996 the users found that it did not meet the baseline requirements, such as ability to replenish two salvos within 4 to 5 minutes. Loader-cum-Replenishment Vehicle could carry only one salvo and the loading time extended up to 40 minutes due to the low lifting capacity of the crane, which was attributable to change in the weight of the rocket pod from 2.5 tonne to 2.8 tonne. The Army agreed to a proposal made by Armament Research and Development Establishment in September 1996 to develop a loader vehicle with 3.5 tonne crane capable of carrying two pods and another replenishment vehicle with four pods as against a single loader-cum-replenishment vehicle which can carry four pods.

Vehicle Research Development Establishment designed the new vehicle and fabricated two loader vehicles in September 1997 at a cost of Rs 61.59 lakh on Tatra chassis procured in December 1996 at a cost of Rs 41 lakh. The suitability of the newly fabricated loader vehicle was yet to be proved. Thus, one of the most important components of the system remained to be developed even as of June 1998.

The General Staff Qualitative Requirement stipulated requirement of a command post vehicle of equal mobility as the launcher with good cross country performance including sandy terrain for providing logistic support. The Project Management Committee selected Tata 4 ton chassis in August 1989. The Tata chassis was procured in October 1994 at a cost of Rs 5.77 lakh by the Vehicle Research and Development Establishment and superstructure fabricated on it at a cost of Rs 3.59 lakh in April 1996. It, however, failed to achieve equal mobility with the launcher vehicle configured on Tatra chassis and it was therefore decided in September 1996 to develop another command post vehicle on a Tatra chassis.

In late April 2005, India test-fired multiple rounds of the Pinaka multi-barrel rocket system at Chandipur. The tests were reported to be aimed at improving the entire system and sub-system of rockets.


Pinaka is a complete MBRL system, each Pinaka battery consists of six launcher vehicles, each with 12 rockets, six loader cum replenishment vehicles, three replenishment vehicles, a Command Post vehicle with a Fire Control computer and the DIGICORA MET radar. A battery of six launchers can neutralize an area of 1000 m x 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 sq km. 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.

K.J. Daniel, Project Director, Pinaka, calls it “a system” and explains how massive each system is. A Pinaka battery has six launchers, six loader vehicles, six replenishment vehicles, two vehicles for ferrying the command post and a vehicle for carrying the meteorological radar, which will provide data on winds. “Today, we have orders for two regiments. In the future, we will have orders for 12 regiments,” said Daniel.

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 Rs 23 million per system compared to the M270 which costs Rs 195 million.

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 antipersonnel and antitank mines at a short notice.
  • Possesses a family of optimised warheads for high lethality
  • Rugged fire control computer for comprehensive control of firing through secure wireless data link
  • Automated laying of launchers by powerful microprocessor-based servo drive
  • Automatic gun alignment and positioning system (AGAPS) integrated with each launcher for land navigation and launcher orientation
  • No separate survey team required for positioning and orientation, making the launcher autonomous
  • Fire-direction radar for fire adjustment and enhanced accuracy
  • Shoot and scoot capability enables launcher to escape counter battery
  • Automated features to enable fast response to call for fire
  • Matching mobility and logistics commonality: Common chassis for the family of vehicles constituting the Pinaka weapon system.


The Pinaka project has been a significant success for the DRDO and its development partners in developing and delivering a state of the art, high value project to the Indian Army's demanding specifications. Whilst DRDO was responsible for the overall design and development, its partners played a significant role in developing important subsystems and components. They include TATA Power Co. Ltd. Strategic Electronic Division (Tata Power SED)and Larsen & Toubro Ltd. to state owned Ordnance Factory Board, for the rockets as well as other private and public firms.

The first Pinaka regiment was raised on February 2000. Each regiment consists of three batteries of six Pinakas each, plus reserves. On March 29, 2006, the Indian Army awarded Tata Power SED and Larsen & Toubro's Heavy Engineering Division a contract worth Rs 200 crore (US $45 million), to produce 40 Pinaka MBRLs each. Tata Power SED declared that it would be delivering the first units within six months. The Indian Army has placed an indent for Pinaka Weapon System worth Rs 1300 crores.


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 beefed up substantially throughout the late 90's, 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, three regiments of Pinaka have now been inducted by the Army. The Indian Army will induct an additional number of regiments of the Pinaka during its next planning period (2012-2017) as the older Grad MLRS regiments are retired.

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 program has led the ARDE and its partner organizations, to launch a project to develop a long range MBRL in the class of the Smerch MBRL. A 7.2-metre rocket for the Pinaka MBRL, which can reach a distance of 120 km and carry a 250 kg payload. 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 and can destroy an area of 3.9 sq km. Integrating UAV with the Pinaka is also in the pipeline, as DRDO intends to install guidance systems on these rockets to increase their accuracy. Development and trials will continue and the rocket is expected to enter user trial by 2012.


  • Range: 7 km - 40 km (4.4 - 26 mi)
  • Rocket Diameter: 214 mm (8.42 in)
  • Length: 4.95 m (16.24 ft)
  • Warhead weight: 100 kg (220 lbs)
  • Total weight: 276kg (608 lbs)


  • Fragmentation high explosive
  • Incendiary
  • Anti-Tank and Anti-Personnel minelettes
  • Anti-Tank bomblettes

To neutralise different types of targets, monolithic (preformed fragments and incendiary) and submunition (antitank bomblets, antitank and antipersonnel minelets) warheads have been developed. Preformed fragment warheads provide dual-purpose blast-cum-fragmentation effects. These warheads incorporate tungsten balls, which on initiation travel at high speed and cause lethal damage over a large area. The design has been perfected by choice of optimum C/M ratio ensuring higher density of fragments. Incendiary warheads with zirconium-based incendiary compositions spread burning chunks over an area of about 100 m radius with a burning time of 3-4 min. These warheads are effective against POL dumps and other inflammable targets. Antitank bomblets and antitank minelets with capability of penetrating 90 mm and 150 mm armour plates, respectively are in an advanced stage of development.

The following fuses have been developed for Pinaka:
Proximity fuse with set to height of burst equal to 10 m + 2 m and electronic countermeasure feature like anti-jamming frequency hopping; and ET fuse with fuse time settings in steps of 0.1 s, data retention of minimum 2 h, multiple mechanical/electronic safety, and FCC/launcher/manual fuse settings have been developed. Advance controlled variable time (CVT) fuses with anti-jamming features in the form of pseudo random phase modulation technique are in an advanced stage of development.


The Pinaka propulsion system consists of flow-formed motor tubes fabricated from high strength special steel and lined with silica phenolic material. High energy composite propellant grain has been specially developed to achieve high thrust and specific impulse. A modified six degrees of freedom (DOFs) trajectory model has been developed and validated over a number of flight trials.

Rockets are loaded into pods making stowage, transport, loading, and unloading easy. The pods are open-frame structures made of special lightweight high-strength aluminium alloy capable of holding six rockets in separate FRP launch tubes.


Automatic Gun Alignment and Positioning System (AGAPS) integrated with Pinaka launcher is a state-of-the-art technology supplied by SAGEM, France. The AGAPS uses a ring laser gyro coupled with accelerometers to form a strap-down inertial sensor. It has one mil accuracy in orientation, fast reaction time, and high-precision fire with improved fire safety. The system is coupled with a global positioning system to provide hybrid land navigation to the launcher. The crew does not need any external help to manage its navigation in the field and to engage targets. It thus obviates the need for pre survey and a separate survey team. It incorporates functions to manage mission preparation through waypoints and itinerary for convenient navigation.

Fire Control Computer (FCC)
The Pinaka FCC in its current configuration operates in essentially stand-alone mode. However, the FCC software code and command structure have been developed to ensure seamless integration with the future digitised battlefield scenarios. Its special features are:

  • Trajectory computation using modified six DOFs trajectory computation code
  • Separate voice and data radio communication with fire units
  • Radio link with DIGICORA for online meteorological data for trajectory computations
  • Capability for interface with FDR
  • User-friendly man-machine interface
  • Computes laying angles and other parameters by deliberating launcher coordinates, target
  • coordinates, meteorological data, and rocket data
  • Communicates and controls up to eight launchers
  • Comprehensive launcher control with capability to stop launcher operations at any time.


The Pinaka launcher is a mobile system with capability of laying and launching 12 rockets individually or in programmed ripple-fire mode. The system also has onboard automatic gun alignment and positioning system (AGAPS) to provide navigation and orientation capabilities to the launcher.

  • Based on a Kolos Tatra truck for high mobility. The truck is license manufactured by BEML.
  • The truck features a central type regulation system; the driver can adjust the tire pressure to suit the terrain for optimum mobility.
  • Two rocket pods per launcher, with a total of twelve rockets between them.
  • A total of six launchers per battery.
  • Launchers are NBC protected, have their own computerized fire control system, and automatic positioning system.
  • The Pinaka system and the launchers are designed for shoot and scoot fire missions thanks to the use of an inertial navigation system SIGMA 30
  • A battery of six launchers can neutralize an area of roughly 1000 * 800 meters at 40 km range.
  • The launcher assembly has electromagnetic elevation and traverse, with traverse being 90º left and right of the centerline and elevation up to 55º

GPS Antenna
Quadrifilar Helix AntennaIncreased application of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) for navigational aids, necessitated the development of low profile antennas. Two types of low profile antennas, viz., Wraparound Microstrip Antenna for Pinaka Rocket and Quadrifilar Helix Antenna for manpack GPS have been developed by DRDO. The development of GPS antenna for Pinaka, along with its feed network, is a challenging task as it requires antenna to be conformal with the cylindrical body of the rocket. Quadrifilar Helix Antenna is one of the preferred antennas for GPS application owing to its smaller size and cardioid pattern.

Rate of Fire for a complete salvo from a launcher:

  • Approximately 44 seconds.

Salvo Reload time

  • 4 minutes.


  • 1-2% of range
  • Improved substantially when Trajectory Correction System was incorporated.