214mm Pinaka MBRL



In 1983, the Indian Army formulated a General Staff Qualitative Requirement (GSQR) for a new Multiple Barrel Rocket Launcher (MBRL). The system was expected required to allow engagements at ranges greater than the 20 km limit of the Soviet and Indian built BM-21. In December 1986, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) sanctioned a sum of Rs.264 million to cover the costs of development. Development was to have been completed by 1994. The MoD nominated Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE) as System Coordinator for execution of the project in association with seven other laboratories of Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO), of which, the Combat Vehicle Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE), High Energy Material Research Laboratory (HEMRL) and Electronics & Radar Development Establishment (ERDE) were major participants [1]. As part of the development DRDO was to fabricate seven launcher vehicles for launch of rockets, of which six were to be supplied to the Army for user trials and subsequent use, three replenishment-cum-loader vehicles including two for the Army's user trials, one command post vehicle for command and control [2].

Image © Dainik Jagran

The Pinaka MBRL at the 2005 Republic Day parade. [Image © Ministry of Defence]

The GSQR prescribed that the system should attain a maximum range of 45 km and the circular error probability (CEP) should not exceed 1 - 2% of range. The system was to incorporate a twelve tube cluster configuration capable of firing a salvo in 30-50 seconds and neutralize 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 [3].

Technical Characteristics

Mounted on a Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML) license-built Tatra (8x8) Kolos cross-country truck chassis, the system compromises a fully enclosed five man cab at the front with two pods each containing six rockets mounted at the rear of the chassis. The cab is fitted with an NBC (Nuclear-Biological-Chemical) system and standard equipment fit includes a central type regulation system, which allows the driver to adjust the tire pressure to suit the type of ground being crossed and passive night vision driving equipment. Maximum road speed is listed at 80 km/h and can negotiate a slope of 30?§ [4].

Image © Dainik Jagran

The Pinaka MBRL undergoing development trials with DRDO. [Image ?? Vayu Aerospace Review]

The 214mm calibre rocket is four metres long, weighs around 275 kg, with the warhead weight of 100 kg. The warhead types which can be fired are anti-tank bomblets, anti-tank mines, incendiary and pilot shot. Maximum range of the rocket is in excess of 40 km with all twelve rockets being ripple fired in 40 seconds. The launcher assembly has electromagnetic elevation and traverse, with traverse being 90º left and right of the centerline and elevation up to 55º [5].

Both range and weight of firepower compare favorably with the BM-21. The BM-21's 40-round launcher can deliver 736 kg of explosives at a range of 20 km, while the 12-round launcher of the Pinaka can deliver 1200 kg at double the range [6]. The Pinaka battery of six launchers, fitted in two pods that fire 72 rockets, can neutralize a target area of roughly 700 x 500 metres (350,000 square metres) [7]. The system has been designed for shoot-and-scoot fire missions with each launcher being provided with its own computerized fire control system and automatic positioning system.

Image © Dainik Jagran Image © Dainik Jagran

The Pinaka MBRL undergoing user trials with the Army. [Image ?? MoD Report, 2001]

First 12 trials were conducted for propulsion unit evaluation and performance. After proving launcher prototypes, performance of launcher and salvo firing capability was demonstrated to users in June 1996. Phase-I user trial was conducted in June 1997. In all 279 rockets were fired during these trials. The rocket developed by ARDE could achieve only 82% in terms of range (37 km). Accuracy at range was also considered less than satisfactory, with a CEP of 4% [8]. Phase II trials were started from July 1998. During these trials consistency of salvo firing was proven. Both range and accuracy of the rockets also demonstrated improvement. CEP was down to 2-3% of range and maximum range attained was 40 km. In all 256 rockets were expended during Phase Two [9, 10].

Trials & Service

The Pinaka entered user trials in February 1999 [11]. During Army user assisted technical trials, it was fired in ambient temperatures ranging from -20° to +55°C. The war in Kargil during the summer of 1999 provided a perfect opportunity for tests under combat conditions. Consequently a section of two launchers were deployed to Kargil in June of 1999. Operated under the auspices of 121 Rocket Regiment, systems were proven in both the direct and indirect fire modes [12]. Following the end of user trials in September 1999, the Indian Army decided to accept the Pinaka. While certain user requirements had remained to be fulfilled, the Army had decided that the Pinaka offers a quantum leap in capability vis-à-vis its existing rocket artillery. However, work continued on to increase the Pinaka's maximum range and develop two new types of warheads. DRDO also worked to cut the salvo re-load time from 15 minutes to just 4 minutes [13].

In 2005, ARDE announced that it was developing a 7.2 metre rocket for the Pinaka MBRL, which reach a distance of 120 km and carry a 250 kg payload [14]. These new rockets can be ripple 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 [15]. The rocket's range is enhanced by a unique dual thrust system, which will be used in the initial thrust at the time of launch and will be reduced substantially during flight time [16]. Integrating UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) with the Pinaka is also in the pipeline, as DRDO intends to install guidance systems on these rockets to increase their accuracy [17]. Development and trials will continue and the rocket is only expected to enter service by 2012 [18].

The first Pinaka regiment was raised in February 2000 [19]. A regiment consists of three batteries of six Pinakas each, plus reserves. It is expected that one regiment will be added each year as the oldest BM-21s are withdrawn from service. Tata Power's Advanced Material Division and Larsen & Tubro's Heavy Engineering Division were awarded a contract worth Rs 200 crore (US $45 million) by Army HQ, on 29 March 2006, to produce 40 Pinaka MRBLs each. [20] Tata Power's CEO, Rahul Chaudhry, stated that the first systems would be delivered within six months.


[1] Ministry of Defence. Report to Parliamentary Standing committee on Defence. New Delhi: Government of India 1998.

[2] CAG. Audit Report – Army and Ordnance Factories. New Delhi: Comptroller & Auditor General of India 1998.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ministry of Defence. Annual Report. New Delhi: Government of India 2001.

[5] Ibid.

[6] 'ARDE adding lethal touch to Pinaka rockets' Indian Express. September 15, 2005.

[7] Ministry of Defence. Annual Report. New Delhi: Government of India 2001.

[8] CAG. Op Cit.

[9] CAG. Audit Report – Army and Ordnance Factories. New Delhi: Comptroller & Auditor General of India 1999.

[10] Ministry of Defence. Annual Report. New Delhi: Government of India 2000.

[11] Ministry of Defence. Annual Report. New Delhi: Government of India 1999.

[12] 'Pinakas for Kargil' Hindustan Times. June 26, 1999.

[13] CAG 1999. Op Cit.

[14] 'ARDE adding lethal touch to Pinaka rockets' Indian Express. September 15, 2005.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] 'Indigenous systems displayed' The Tribune. March 16, 2000.

[20] 'Tata, L&T bag orders for Pinaka Rocket Launcher' Zee News. April 02, 2006.

Developmental Issues

Despite the fact that the staff project was preceded by competence build up projects, ARDE sought periodical extensions. It admitted in October 1997, that this was due to incorrect estimation of all critical and technological issues during competence build up stage. As per its latest proposal additional funds of Rs.300 million would be required to complete the project by December 2000. This revised date for completion is more accurate and is likely to be met. ARDE in association with the participating laboratories conducted 32 flight trials between September 1988 and May 1998, initially with a single tube launcher developed under competence build-up projects and later with the launchers developed under this project.

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