Nuclear-capable, ship-based Dhanush and surface-to-surface Prithvi-II were successfully flight-tested in quick succession early Saturday with both systems zeroing in on pre-designated targets with a high degree of accuracy. The salvo-mode test-firing was carried out by personnel of the Strategic Forces Command as part of a user-training exercise.

While Dhanush, a naval variant of Prithvi, was launched first from INS Subhadhra, anchored near Balasore, off the coast of Orissa at 5.30 a. m., Prithvi-II was fired a few minutes later from Launch Complex-III at the Integrated Test Range, Chandipur.

Each missile achieved its full range (Dhanush 350 km and Prithvi-II 290 km) and splashed down within a few metres of the target in the Bay of Bengal after a flight of about 500 seconds. An indigenously-developed advanced navigation and guidance system, which was tested in the two launches, provided a very high degree of accuracy, according to Defence Research and Development Organisation officials.

Both missiles met all mission objectives and followed the predicted path with text-book precision. The dynamics of the vehicles and the entire mission sequencing events conformed to expectations. The trajectories of both missiles were monitored by a wide tracking network consisting of radars, telemetry and electro-optical systems spread over land and sea. Two naval ships located near the target point-tracked the splashdown of Dhanush.

The officials said range independent software for carrying out the two flight tests almost simultaneously was also validated.

While the 8.5-metre-tall Prithvi-II is a surface-to-surface missile, the 11-metre long Dhanush is a ship-to-surface and ship-to-ship system. Both are single-stage, liquid propelled missiles and each of them is capable of carrying a 500-kg payload. The two missiles are under production after the successful completion of development trials, and have been inducted into the Army, the Air Force and the Navy.

V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister and DRDO Director-General; P. Venugopalan, Director, Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL); S.K. Ray, Director, Research Centre Imarat; Avinash Chander , Director, Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL); V.L.N. Rao, Programme Director, and S.P. Dash, Director, ITR, were present during the mission.

Meanwhile, the flight-testing of nuclear-capable surface-to-surface Agni-I (700km range) is scheduled for Sunday.

Correction

The first paragraph of a report “Test-firing of Prithvi-II, Dhanush today” (March 27, 2010) said that the medium range surface-to-surface Prithvi-II and ship-based Dhanush missiles, both having a range of 330 km, would be test-fired as part of user trials on Saturday, while the third paragraph of a report “Dhanush, Prithvi-II test-fired successfully” (March 28, 2010) said that each missile had achieved its full range (Dhanush 350 km and Prithvi-II 290 km). This led to a query.

The writer clarifies that while Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) sources (on March 26, 2010) incorrectly mentioned the range of both the missiles to be 330 km, the next day, following the successful launch, stated that the missiles had touched a range of 350 km (Dhanush) and 290 km (Prithvi-II). The full range of Dhanush is 350 km while Prithvi-II's is 295 km.