FAS | Nuke | Guide | India | Missile |||| Index | Search |


Prithvi The Prithvi was India's first indigenously developed ballistic missile produced by the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP). It is a road-mobile, short range ballistic missile (SRBM) powered by a single-stage, two engines, and liquid-fuel. Development of the Prithvi began in 1983, and it was first tested fired on February 25, 1988. The three versions of the Prithvi have been tested twenty times since.

The Prithvi is not a particularly sophisticated missile, incorporating propulsion technology derived from the Soviet SA-2 surface-to-air missile. According to the Carnengie Endowment for International Peace "Given the Prithvi's range, its role would be restricted to use against Pakistan."

The Prithvi is India's only deployed nuclear capable missile. Two versions are now in service and a third is under development.

The Prithvi-I is relatively small, 8.55 meters long and 1.1 meters in diameter. It weighs 4,000-4,500 kg. India has demonstrated its ability to launch the Prithvi from mobile launchers through at least two test fires by artillery personnel. It was paraded in mobile launchers during India's Republic Day parade in January 1996.

Despite US pressure on India to halt the program, serial production of Prithvi-I began at Bharat Dynamic Limited sometime between mid-1994 and 1997. An estimated 75 Prithvi warheads have been produced.

The Indian army is reluctant to incorporate the Prithvi-I into its practices largely because of its lack of precision and the difficulties associated with its liquid fuel. The Prithvi is reported to have a relatively high circular error probable (CEP) -- 300 meters at 150 km range and 500 meters at 250 km range, (0.2 percent of the range). There have been reports of plans by the Indian Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) to install Global Positioning System (GPS) units on the Prithvi, in order to reduce its CEP to about 75 meters.

The Prithvi's liquid fuel poses liabilities as a delivery system. The liquid propellant mixture is highly volatile and corrosive and must be loaded just prior to launch.


Designation Prithvi
Range km Prithvi-1 = 150
Prithvi-2 = 250
Prithvi-3 = 350
Length meters 8.55
Width meters 1.1
Payload kg Prithvi-1 = 1,000
Prithvi-2 = 500-750
Prithvi-3 = 1,000
Weight kg. 4,000 - 4,500
Guidance Inertial + Terminal
Propulsion Liquid

Sources and Resources

FAS | Nuke | Guide | India | Missile |||| Index | Search |

Maintained by the Strategic Security Project
Updated Tuesday, November 5, 2002 12:33:00 PM