Prithvi (Sanskrit: pṛthvī "Earth") is a tactical surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) developed by DRDO of India under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP). It is deployed by India's Strategic Forces Command.
Prithvi II missile during a launch
|Type||Short-range ballistic missile|
|Place of origin||India|
|In service||1994 (Prithvi I)|
|Used by||Indian Armed Forces|
|Designer||Defence Research and Development Organisation|
|Manufacturer||Bharat Dynamics Limited|
|Produced||February 25, 1988 (Prithvi I)|
January 27, 1996 (Prithvi II)
January 23, 2004 (Prithvi III)
|No. built||30 (2017 est.)|
|Mass||4,400 kg (Prithvi I)|
4,600 kg (Prithvi II)
5,600 kg (Prithvi III)
|Length||9 m (Prithvi I) |
8.56 m (Prithvi II, Prithvi III)
|Diameter||110 cm (Prithvi I, Prithvi II) |
100 cm (Prithvi III)
|Engine||Single-stage liquid fuel dual motor (Prithvi I, Prithvi II), |
Single-stage solid motor (Prithvi III)
|150 km (Prithvi I)|
250–350 km (Prithvi II)
350–600 km (Prithvi III)
|strap-down inertial guidance|
|8 x 8 Tata Transporter Erector launcher|
Development and history
The Government of India launched the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program in 1983 to achieve self-sufficiency in the development and production of wide range of ballistic missiles, surface-to-air missiles etc. Prithvi was the first missile to be developed under the program. DRDO attempted to build a surface-to-air missile under Project Devil. Variants make use of either liquid or both liquid and solid fuels. Developed as a battlefield missile, it could carry a nuclear warhead in its role as a tactical nuclear weapon.
The Prithvi missile project encompassed developing three variants for use by the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy. The initial project framework of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program outlines the variants in the following manner.
- Prithvi I (SS-150) – Army version (150 km (93 mi) range with a payload of 1,000 kg (2,200 lb))
- Prithvi II (SS-250) – Air Force version (350 km (220 mi) range with a payload of 500 kg (1,100 lb))
- Prithvi III (SS-350) – Naval version (350 km (220 mi) range with a payload of 1,000 kg (2,200 lb))
Prithvi I class is a single-stage liquid-fueled surface-to-surface ballistic missile having a maximum warhead mounting capability of 1,000 kg, with a range of 150 km (93 mi). It has an accuracy of 10–50 m (33–164 ft) and can be launched from transporter erector launchers. This class of Prithvi missile was inducted into the Indian Army in 1994. As Per (DRDO) Chief Avinash Chander the tactical 150 km-range Prithvi missile will be replaced with the Prahaar missile, which is more capable and has more accuracy. According to Chander, the Prithvi I missiles withdrawn from service would be upgraded to be used for longer ranges.
Prithvi II class is also a single-stage liquid-fueled missile having a maximum warhead mounting capability of 500 kg, but with an extended range of 250 km (160 mi). It was developed with the Indian Air Force being the primary user. It was first test-fired on 27 January 1996 and the development stages were completed in 2004. This variant has been inducted into the army as well. In a test, the missile was launched with an extended range of 350 km (220 mi) and had improved navigation due to an inertial navigation system. The missile features measures to deceive anti-ballistic missiles.
The missile was inducted into India's Strategic Forces Command in 2003, and it was the first missile developed under the IGMDP. After a failed test on 24 September 2010, two more missiles aimed at two different targets were launched on 22 December 2010 and were successful. According to news sources the range is now increased to 350 km (220 mi) and the payload capacity now ranges between 500 – 1000 kg. On June 2, India successfully test-fired its indigenous nuclear-capable Prithvi-II missile. The launch happened at the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Odisha at 9:50am. The missile, capable of carrying payloads of up to 1,000kg, was inducted into the armed forces in 2003. It is the first to be developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization under its Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.
|Test||27 January 1996||DRDO||Successful|
|User trial||12 October 2009 (I)||Strategic Forces Command||Successful|
|12 October 2009 (II)|
|24 September 2010||Failure||Launch motor failure|
|22 December 2010 (I)||Successful|
|22 December 2010 (II)|
|9 June 2011|
|25 August 2012|
|4 October 2012|
|7 October 2013|
|7 January 2014|
|28 March 2014|
|26 November 2015|
|16 February 2016|
|18 May 2016|
|21 November 2016 (I)|
|21 November 2016 (II)|
|2 June 2017|
|7 February 2018|
|21 February 2018|
Prithvi III class is a two-stage surface-to-surface missile. The first stage is solid fueled with a 16 metric ton force (157 kN) thrust motor. The second stage is liquid-fueled. The missile can carry a 1,000 kg warhead to a distance of 350 km (220 mi) and a 500 kg warhead to a distance of 600 km (370 mi) and a 250 kg warhead up to a distance of 750 km (470 mi). Dhanush is a system consisting of a stabilization platform and the missile. It is a customized version of the Prithvi and is certified for sea worthiness. Dhanush has to be launched from a hydraulically stabilized launch pad. Its low range acts against it and thus it is seen as a weapon either to be used to destroy an aircraft carrier or an enemy port. The missile has been tested from surface ships of the navy many times.
Prithvi III was first tested in 2000 from INS Subhadra, a Sukanya-class patrol vessel. The missile was launched from the updated reinforced helicopter deck of the vessel. The first flight test of the 250 km (160 mi) variant was only partially successful. The full operational testing was completed in 2004. The following year in December, an enhanced 350 km version of the missile, the Dhanush was tested from INS Rajput and successfully hit a land-based target. The missile was again successfully tested-fired from INS Subhadra, which was anchored about 35 km (22 mi) offshore from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur on December 13, 2009. It was the sixth test of the missile. Prithvi III or Dhanush was again tested on November 26, 2015 from INS Subhadra in the Bay of Bengal.
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