The Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) laboratory has evaluated submunition warheads for the Pinaka I multi-barrel rocket launcher (MBRL) system at Pokhran field firing range in Rajasthan.

ARDE director Dr KM Rajan said that the tests form a part of the proof trials for the production lot of Pinaka I, which randomly picks up Pinakas to evaluate the performance standards of a specific lot at regular periods.

Rajan said: "Complete systems, subsystems and efficiency for these submunition warheads have been tested."

The successful trials are expected to allow for the use of these submunition warheads in mark-II version of Pinaka, which will have a 20km operational range.

Designed to replace the Indian Army’s ageing Russian-built BM-21 Grad launchers, the Pinaka is capable of destroying oppositioncommunication centres, air terminal complexes, and gun / rocket locations, as well as solid structures and bunkers.

The system features six launcher vehicles of 12 rockets each, as well as two command post vehicles, including a fire control computer, Digicora MET radar, and six loader / replenishment vehicles with a payload of 100kg.

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"Complete systems, subsystems and efficiency for these submunition warheads have been tested."

An undisclosed DRDO official told The Times of India: "We have seen Pinaka’s performance during the Kargil episode.

"Now this thermo-baric ammunition is able to operate from a mobile launcher at extreme temperature ranges of -10°C to 55°C with a quicker reaction time.

"It also has the capability to carry various kinds of warheads. It has now become more lethal."

The weapon’s thermal and blast effects have been developed to further augment firepower of the Indian Army’s Arjun main battle tank .

Image: The Pinaka 214mm multi-barrel rocket launcher system. Photo: courtesy of Hemant.rawat1234.