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June 9 Prithvi II Test A Roaring Success

June 12, 2011

Indian Prithvi 2

The crown jewel of India’s tactical missile arsenal performed brilliantly on Thursday as it engaged a fictitious target in the Bay of Bengal. The Prithvi II surface-to-surface missile is a nuclear capable short-range affair that can be armed with a 1,000 kilogram warhead–equal to 2,200 pounds of high explosive.

The launch was carried out at the Intermediate Test Range at nine in the morning. Once the missile was in midair, a battery of radars and tracking systems charted its path toward the target, which it engaged within a 10 meter radius.

According to sources, the strategic missile reached its pre-defined target in the Bay of Bengal with a very high accuracy of better than 10 meters. All the radars, electro-optical systems located along the coast had tracked and monitored the missile throughout the flight path. A ship of the Indian Navy stationed near the target witnessed the final event.

The Prithvi SRBMs are among the newest road-mobile precision weapons developed anywhere. While NATO and the US have abandoned tactical missiles since the end of the Cold War the opposite trend has swept Asia, where acquiring and localizing the technology has proven inexpensive. The Prithvi I/II/III are the result of a decades long program to give India’s military a credible deterrent against its nuclear-armed rivals China and Pakistan. While the Prithvis usually have conventional warheads they can be fitted with nuclear ones too.

Other countries beyond South Asia have embraced road mobile missiles. Iran is a notable example and its Fateh-110/110A are the closest analogs of the Indian Prithvi I/II/III based on their characteristics. In the Korean Peninsula, two rival surface-to-surface missiles match the Pithvi I/II/III. North Korea appropriated Soviet technology for its Hwasong-series of SRBMs, whose earlier variants were short range models, before graduating to MRBMs. South Korea’s response is the Hyunmoo-series, which is often described as a copy of the Russian Iskander-M.

Israel, Syria, and Turkey are also recent adopters of road mobile SRBMs, except the former is willing to export it. Israel’s mysterious LORA, whose range is similar to the US-made ATACMS that’s coveted by its wealthier allies, has at least one international customer–the Republic of Azerbaijan, whose steep military spending is meant to intimidate its longstanding foe Armenia.

So far, this is the fourth test of the new Prithvi II missile in two years. The Deccan Herald reports:

The indigenously developed  sophisticated missile, which has a capability to hit a target at a distance of 350 kms carrying both conventional as well as nuclear warheads up to 500 kg, was test fired from the launch pad number three of the Interim Test Range (ITR) at around 9 am. The test launch of the missile was carried out as part of a regular training exercise of the Indian Armed Forces.

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