India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on December 11, 2021 announced that it had carried out successful tests of the Pinaka Extended Range (Pinaka-ER) rockets for the Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher System. Area Denial Munition warheads and indigenously developed fuzes were also tested at Pokhran range. With these successful trials, which lasted three days, the system is ready for serial production.
Pinaka-ER, also called Enhanced Pinaka, is an improvement over the original Pinaka Mk-1 rocket. Pinaka Mk-1 was used during the Kargil War in 1999. User trials of the Pinaka Mk-1 system were completed in July 2002. Production of the Pinaka system with Mk-1 rockets commenced in 2006. It has a stated range of 37.5km, while Pinaka-ER has a range of 45km and a maximum tested range of 50km. Pinaka-ER rockets, while shorter and lighter than Mk-1 rockets, have a higher propellant fraction and 6 flat fins instead of Mk-1’s four curved fins.
DRDO had transferred the technology of the Pinaka-ER to an industry partner; Economic Explosives Limited. The first set of trials of the industry produced Pinaka-ER was conducted on November 4, 2020 in which six rockets were fired. A second set of trials were held in June 2021 in which 25 rockets were fired. In the current set of trials, a total of 24 rockets were fired for different ranges and warhead capabilities to meet the objectives of accuracy and consistency. With this, the initial phase of technology absorption of Pinaka-ER by the industry partner has been completed making them ready for series production.
ADM warheads, proximity fuzes and miniaturised fuzes for ADMs were also tested. Pinaka is capable of using three types of sub-munition warheads: ATM, STM and DPICM. ATM warhead houses 18 anti-tank sub munitions, while STM warhead houses 48 sub-munitions for use against soft targets. Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munition (DPICM) warhead is capable of dispersing 234 bomblets. Dual-purpose Direct-Action Self Destruction (DASD) & Anti-Tank Munition (ATM) fuzes were evaluated. Other than the three sub-munition warheads, Pinaka rockets are also capable of using three unitary warheads: pre-formed fragmented, incendiary and thermobaric.
A Pinaka regiment consists of 18 8×8 truck mounted launchers, each with 12 rockets which can be launched in 44 seconds. Two regiments are in Indian Army service while two more are being inducted. These use the Mk-1 rockets. Six more regiments were ordered in August 2020. These would use Pinaka-ER rockets and are to be inducted by 2024. The Mk-1 rockets used in the first four regiments would also be replaced with Enhanced range rockets. 12 more Pinaka regiments would be ordered and would be equipped with Pinaka Mk-2 rockets. Pinaka Mk-2 rockets with a range of over 60km are under trials. A Guided Pinaka rocket with a range of 75 km is also being tested. However, only 8 guided rockets can be carried per launcher unlike the 12 with other Pinaka rockets.