Indian Army looking at increasing Pinaka rocket regiments to 22 within a decade

The Indian Army, which currently operates two regiments of the indigenously-developed truck-mounted Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launcher (MBRL) systems, hopes to induct another eight by 2022 and is looking at increasing the number to 22 within a decade to add firepower to its artillery, an official said.

The Pinaka system is designed and developed by two private entities, the Tatas and Larsen and Toubro (L&T), in association with Armament Research and Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). It is one of the rare successes of the private sector in manufacturing military hardware.

“The first two Pinaka regiments were inducted during 2006-2010. L&T, which supplied the systems for one regiment, has been supporting them on an as-needed basis. The user (Indian Army) has plans for induction of 22 regiments overall and this is likely to be in a timeframe of a decade plus,” Jayant D. Patil, Senior Vice President & Head – Defence & Aerospace, L&T, told IANS.

For now, the Cabinet Committe on Security (CCS) in September cleared the raising of the third and fourth Pinaka regiments at a cost of over Rs 3,000 crore ($441 million). And the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) last month cleared a RFP (Request for Proposal) for six additional regiments at a cost of Rs 14,633 crore.

Each regiment consists of three batteries of six Pinaka launchers, each capable of launching 12 rockets with a range of 40 km in a space of 44 seconds, in addition to support vehicles, a radar and a command post. The rockets in the 12 additional regiments will have an extended range of 70 km and are currently in the development process.

Speaking on the distribution of the new regiments between Tata Power Strategic Electronic Division (SED) and L&T, Patil said: “Currently, contract signing for two regiments (negotiations for which concluded in January 2011) is under way and is likely to be inked soon. The RFP may detail the distribution of systems for the next six regiments.”

(On Monday, Tata Power SED received an order worth over Rs 200 crore for 20 launchers and eight command posts.)

“Going by earlier precedence, the RFP is likely within the next few weeks. Thereafter, contracting is likely to be completed in about six months,” Patil said.

As for the extended-range version of the rocket system that L&T is developing, he said: “The requirements for Pinaka systems by the user is going to continue for over 15 years. As designers, and with the modularity in our design, we have catered for addressing obsolescence challenges.”

“The Pinaka systems released earlier were in joint development mode with DRDO. As such, no ToT (transfer of technology) has been taken by L&T so far. Systems designed by us have built-in factors of safety; the physical interface aspects have been addressed, and we do not envisage any major challenges in releasing the rockets with extended range,” he added.

Speaking on the extended version, Rahul Chaudhry, CEO – Tata Power SED, said the company has been working on the design, development and upgrades of the Pinaka since 1989 in partnership with the Ministry of Defence and DRDO.

“Tata Power SED takes pride to be identified as an OEM for one of the few fully-indigenous Indian defence systems,” he added.

“Tata Power SED continues to invest in the programme and is committed to meet the requirements of the Indian Army. As part of our preparations, we have the necessary design, development and manufacturing capabilities in Mumbai and our existing production facility in Bangalore (Bengaluru).

“In addition, we are currently making a significant investment in Vemagal (near Bengaluru) for a state-of-the-art defence manufacturing unit which will be operational soon and will be able to roll out Pinakas to meet any requirements of the army,” Chaudhry added.

Tata Power SED delivered one Pinaka regiment to the army between 2006 and 2010.

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