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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Prahar a counter to the Hatf-9 tactical nuclear weapon?

I was wondering when the Indians would call the Paki bluff on their hatf-9 tactical nuclear weapon. It is not to difficult to see that the hatf-9 is nothing but a MBRLS and any nuclear warhead delivered from a rocket launched off a MBRL system needs to be manufactured with extreme precision and miniaturized to a great extent. At a time when many folks on the various defence forums on the internet question if Pakistan is able to miniaturize its warheads enough to place on a ballistic missile, rocket based nuclear warhead is too much to accept even for the most amateur (like me) of defence followers. Pakistan's nuclear blackmail was suitably checkmated with India's undeclared but well known cold start doctrine. Division after division of tanks and ICVs crossing into Pakistan and bisecting it was giving sleepless nights to the Pakistani generals. They needed another one of their famous ruses to play the good old game of appeasing local concerns by announcing the development of the hatf-9 "tactical nuclear weapon". So they got some cheap Russian reverse-engineered MBRLs from China, big deal! I was just waiting for the Indian army to announce its jhatka which would bitch-slap these Pakistani generals into djinn territory. And it happened. The PRAHAR missile has been announced. Developing a 150 KM missile is no big deal for Mr. Saraswat's men at the DRDO. At a time when India is deliberating developing the AGNI-VI truly ICBM and while many other options exist which can be used in the same role as the PRAHAR, announcing a new missile leaves many without doubt that it is to raise the blood pressure of the alcohol guzzling Paki generals!

Given that cruise missiles are very expensive and large scale tactical use of nuclear weapons, though the stuff of science fiction disaster movies, does not have a direct weapon mapped to it in the Indian arsenal. Yes I did mention that Indian army has other alternatives but those dont come cheap. For example, the Brahmos though having a minimum range limit given its speed costs a fortune apiece. The Nirbhay under development will again not come cheap. Prithvi, Agni all cost an arm or leg and figure more in strategic thinking terms. Hence the Prahar fills up the role that Brahmos and Nirbhay are too costly too fill.

The details of this new missile are sketchy and Shri Saraswat has said that the same launch vehicle could launch the PRAHAR missile with various warhead configurations which pretty much means this is again a MBRL based tactical weapon system. More to come on the Prahar weapon as I analyze it more and post my thoughts here. 

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