Prithvi-1 Replacement: India's Pragati surface-to-surface tactical missile system is displayed at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition in Goyang, north of Seoul, on Oct. 28. (JUNG YEON-JE/AFP)
NEW DELHI — India will replace its tactical ballistic missile Prithvi-1 with a shorter-range missile, the Pragati, which was displayed for the first time at the KINTEX Seoul defense show, Indian Army sources said.
Unlike the Prithvi-I, which is propelled by liquid fuel, the Pragati is a solid-fuel missile with a shorter range of between 70 and 170 kilometers. It helps fill the gap created by the delay in the purchase of 155mm/52 caliber guns, said the Army source.
The Army had been demanding a solid-fueled missile in place of the Prithvi-I missile since its induction in 1994. The Prithvi-I was cumbersome to move, maintain and deploy, the source added.
Capable of firing in a salvo, Pragati can be launched within two to three minutes of preparation time, a much quicker reaction than the Prithvi-I, which requires at least half an hour. The Prithvi-I missile still can be used for longer-range engagement, the source said.
The vehicle-mounted Pragati will fill the firing gap between the homegrown Pinaka multibarrel rocket launcher, with a range of 40 kilometers, and the Prithvi-I missile with a range of 150 kilometers, the source said.
Comparing the missile to the Lockheed Martin Army Tactical Missile System, a scientist at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said they developed the Pragati in response to the Nasr short-range missile produced by Pakistan.
Admitting that the Army needs short-range missiles, the DRDO scientist said the Prithvi has advanced guidance systems and has been tested several times. Its variants are inducted in the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force, claimed the DRDO scientist.
The scientist, however, would not comment on Pragatiís ability to carry a nuclear warhead. Pakistan has claimed that its Nasr short-range missile can carry a nuclear weapon.
Mahindra Singh, a retired Army brigadier general, said the military would be able to strike more targets with greater accuracy with the Pragati rather than depending on the less accurate Prithvi, which would require a greater amount of explosives.