Asia Defense | Security | South Asia

India Test Fires Two Prithvi-II Short-Range Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missiles

The tactical surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missiles were test fired at night on November 20.

Franz-Stefan Gady
India Test Fires Two Prithvi-II Short-Range Nuclear-Capable Ballistic Missiles
Credit: DRDO

India’s Strategic Forces Command (SFC) test launched two short-range nuclear capable ballistic missiles at night as part of its annual training cycle to test the combat readiness of the Indian Army’s missile forces.

Two Prithvi-II tactical surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missiles were test fired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) on Dr. Abdul Kalam Island in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of Odisha at nighttime on November 20.

The missile launches took place between 7 p.m. and 7:15 p.m., according to government sources cited in local media reports.

“[T]he missile trajectory was tracked by radars, electro-optical tracking systems and telemetry stations by the DRDO along the coast of Odisha,” an official was quoted as saying by Times Now.

“Both tests met all parameters,” the official added. The missile reportedly splashed down in the Bay of Bengal.

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The night-time user trial was overseen by the SFC and the Defense Ministry’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). The missile was randomly selected from the production stock.

As I reportedly previously:

Prithvi-II is a single-state, liquid-fueled short-range ballistic missile, developed by DRDO in the 1990s and early 2000s under the so-called Integrated Guided Missile Development Program. It was first introduced into service in 2003. The missile has an operational range of around 350 kilometers and can alternatively be armed with 500 to 1,000 kilogram conventional or nuclear warheads.

The last nighttime test firing of a Prithvi-II took place in June of this year. A previous test took place in February 2018.

Earlier this month, the SFC conducted a test launch of an Agni-II medium- to intermediate-range ballistic missile from Abdul Kalam Island in the Bay of Bengal.

The nuclear-capable Agni-II has a maximum range of between 2,000-3,000 kilometers and can carry a conventional or nuclear warhead of up 1,000 kilograms. It was first deployed in 2004 and is both road and rail mobile.

The Agni-II missile was last test fired in February 2018.

As I reported earlier this week, DRDO has so far not conducted a scheduled test firing of a K-4 intermediate-range, nuclear-capable submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from a submerged platform. The launch was supposed to take place earlier this month off the coast of Andhra Pradesh in southeastern India.

No test has taken place to date.

Notably, Pakistan’s military test fired a Shaheen-I medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) on November 18. The launch was meant to test the operational readiness of the Pakistan Army Strategic Forces Command (ASFC) and to ensure credible minimum deterrence.