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Family of short-range ballistic missiles

Prithvi missile

The Prithvi was developed for the Indian Army as a battlefield support weapon

  Prithvi I Prithvi II Prithvi III
Entered service 1994 1996 (?) ?
Missile length 8.53 m 9.4 m 10 m
Missile diameter 1.1 m 1.1 m 1.1 m
Fin span 2.6 m 2.6 m 2.6 m
Missile launch weight 4 400 kg 4 600 kg 5 600 kg
Warhead weight 850 - 1 000 kg ~ 500 kg ~ 500 kg
Warhead type conventional, nuclear conventional, nuclear conventional, nuclear
Range of fire 150 km 250 - 350 km 600 - 750 km
CEP 10 - 15 m ? ?


   The Prithvi (Hindi for “Earth”) is India’s first indigenously developed ballistic missile. It is a Short-Range Ballistic missile (SRBM) and evolved from the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program. The missile is launched from the surface to hit any ground target within various ranges of 150 km, 350 km and up to 750 km respectively for Prithvi I, Prithvi II and Prithvi III. Since 2003 the Prithvi is mainly operational with the newly formed Strategic Forces Command.

   The Prithvi was reverse engineered from the Soviet SA-2 and has similar propulsion technology. Project Devil and Valiant served as the predecessor for the Prithvi missile in which Defence Research & Development Laboratory reverse engineered the SA-2 Guideline. There are different versions of the Prithvi missile, that use solid or liquid fuel propulsion. The Prithvi is nuclear capable and also serves in a tactical role. There is also a conventional warhead.

  The missile is jointly manufactured by Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Bharat Dynamics limited since 1988.

   The Prithvi family of missiles has three versions as per the requirement of Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy designated as Prithvi I, Prithvi II and Prithvi III respectively. The Army version is capable of delivering a payload of 1 000 kg whereas the Air Force and Navy versions has a payload of around 500 kg.

   The Prithvi I was inducted in the Indian Army in 1994. This missile has a liquid fuel propulsion and inertial guidance. It has a range between 40 and 150 km. It is said to be accurate enough to hit within 10-50 metres of target. It can use nuclear or conventional warheads. The conventional 850 kg warhead with pre-fragmented elements has a lethal range of 250 m. It is designed to neutralize important targets such as radar installations, missile launching pads, concentrations of enemy troops and so on. The missile is carried by an 8x8 Tatra Transport Erector Launcher.

   The Prithvi II was further developed with enhanced range of 250 km and also houses inertial navigational system. The missile can evade the intercepting missiles using deception measures. This missile has a liquid fuel propulsion. Conventional warhead of the Prithvi II is intended to engage parked enemy aircraft and similar soft-skin targets.

   The Naval version or Prithvi III uses two stage propulsion system with both solid and liquid propulsion in first and second stage respectively. This missile has a solid fuel rocket motor. It has an operational range of 600 km and can be increased to 750 km by decreasing the payload to half. The missile stabilization system used is called Dhanush. It was test fired on board INS Subhadra and INS Rajput and is deemed successful and inducted into Indian Navy as well as Strategic Forces Command.

   The missiles were continuously improved and tested at the integrated missile testing range in Chandipur over the years. The missile is said to be replaced by the new Prahaar missile system which is undergoing testing.


Rahul Singh Dhari


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Prithvi missile

Prithvi missile

Prithvi missile

Prithvi missile

Prithvi missile

Prithvi missile

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