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Prithvi missile

Prithvi I missile
Type Short Range Ballistic Missile
Place of origin  India
Service history
In service 1994 (Prithvi I)
Used by Indian Army
Indian Air Force
Indian Navy
Production history
Manufacturer Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)
Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL)
Produced February 25, 1988 (Prithvi I)
January 27, 1996 (Prithvi II)
April 11, 2000 (Dhanush)
January 23, 2004 (Prithvi III)
Weight 4,400 kg (Prithvi I)
4,600 kg (Prithvi II)
5,600 kg (Prithvi III)
Length 9 m (Prithvi I)
8.56 m (Prithvi II, Prithvi III)
Diameter 110 cm (Prithvi I, Prithvi II)
100cm (Prithvi III)

Engine Single Stage liquid fuel dual motor(Prithvi I, Prithvi II),
Single Stage Solid Motor (Prithvi III)
150 km (Prithvi I)
250-350 km (Prithvi II)
350 - 600 km (Prithvi III)
strap-down inertial guidance
8 x 8 Tata Transporter Erector Launcher

Prithvi (Sanskrit: पृथ्वी, pṛthvī "Earth") is a tactical surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) developed by DRDO of India under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program.

Development and History

The Government of India launched the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program in 1983 to achieve self sufficiency in the development and production of wide range of Ballistic Missiles, Surface to Air Missiles etc.

Prithvi was the first missile to be developed under the Program. DRDO attempted to build Surface-to-air Missile under Project Devil.[1]

Variants make use of either liquid or both liquid and solid fuels. Developed as a battlefield missile, it could carry a nuclear warhead in its role as a tactical nuclear weapon.


The Prithvi missile project encompassed developing 3 variants for use by the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy. The initial project framework of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program outlines the variants in the following manner.[2]

  • Prithvi I (SS-150) - Army Version (150 km range with a payload of 1,000 kg)
  • Prithvi II (SS-250) - Air Force Version (250 km range with a payload of 500 kg)
  • Prithvi III (SS-350) - Naval Version (350 km range with a payload of 1000 kg)
  • Dhanush- Dhanush is reportedly a naval version of Prithvi which can be launched from ships.[3] Some sources claim that Dhanush is a system consisting of stabilization platform and missiles, which has the capability to launch both Prithvi II and Prithvi III from Ships[1] while others report that Dhanush is a variant of Prithvi-II ballistic missile.

Over the years these specifications underwent a number of changes. While the codename Prithvi stands for any missile inducted by India into its armed forces in this category, the later developmental versions are codenamed as Prithvi II and Prithvi III.


Prithvi I

Prithvi I class is a surface-to-surface missile having a maximum warhead mounting capability of 1,000 kg, with a range of 150 km. It has an accuracy of 10 – 50 m and can be launched from transporter erector launchers. This class of Prithvi missile was inducted into the Indian Army in 1994. As Per (DRDO) Chief Avinash Chander the tactical 150 km-range Prithvi missile will be replaced with the Prahar missile, which is more capable and has more accuracy.” According to Chander, the Prithvi I missiles withdrawn from service would be upgraded to be used for longer ranges.

Prithvi II

Prithvi II class is also a single-stage liquid-fuelled missile having a maximum warhead mounting capability of 500 kg, but with an extended range of 250 km. It was developed with the Indian Air Force being the primary user. It was first test-fired on January 27, 1996 and the development stages were completed in 2004. This variant has been inducted into the army as well. In a recent test, the missile was launched with an extended range of 350 km and had improved navigation due to an inertial navigation system. The missile features measures to deceive Anti-ballistic missiles. Inducted into the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) in 2003, Prithvi-II was the first missile to be developed by DRDO under the IGMDP.[4] After a failed test on 24 September 2010,[5] two more missiles aimed at two different targets were launched on 22 December 2010 and were successful.[6] According to news sources the range is now increased to 350 km and the payload capacity now ranges between 500 to 1000 kg.[7][8][9] A test firing on 9 June 2011 at the Interim Test Range in Chandipur was successful with the missile reaching an accuracy of better than 10 meters.[10] Prithvi II was successfully test fired again on 25 August 2012 and 4 October 2012, and it covered its full range of 350 kilometers.[11][12] Another successful Flight Test of Prithvi II was conducted on October 7, 2013.[13]

Prithvi III

Prithvi III class (codenamed Dhanush meaning Bow) is a two-stage ship-to-surface missile. The first stage is solid fuelled with a 16 metric ton force (157 kN) thrust motor. The second stage is liquid-fueled. The missile can carry a 1,000 kg warhead to a distance of 350 km and a 500 kg warhead to a distance of 600 km and a 250 kg warhead up to a distance of 750 km. Dhanush is a system consisting of a stabilization platform and the missile. It is a customised version of the Prithvi and is certified for sea worthiness. Dhanush has to be launched from a hydraulically stabilized launch pad. Its low range acts against it and thus it is seen a weapons either to be used to destroy an aircraft carrier or an enemy port. The missile has been tested from surface ships of the navy many times.

Prithvi III was first tested in 2000 from INS Subhadra, a Sukanya class patrol craft. The missile was launched from the updated reinforced helicopter deck of the vessel. The first flight test of the 250 km variant was only partially successful.[14] The full operational testing was completed in 2004.[15] The following year in December, an enhanced 350 km version of the missile was tested from the INS Rajput and successfully hit a land-based target.[16] The missile was again successfully tested-fired from INS Subhadra, which was anchored about 35 km offshore from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur on December 13, 2009. It was the sixth test of the missile.[17]

As of 2013, this missile has not been deployed due to logistical deficiencies. It requires explosive liquid fuel which is difficult to store; and it cannot be launched vertically which forces all missiles to be stored on the surface of the ship. Vertically launched missiles can be stored internally in the hull of a ship. This deficiency also means that it will not be used in submarines or underwater systems. Its accuracy is also supposed to be less than that of BrahMos cruise missile.

See also


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