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The Indian Army and Strategic Forces Command (SFC) are planning a complete phase-out of the Prithvi-1 and Prithvi-2 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) by 2030. This move signifies India’s commitment to modernizing its missile arsenal and deploying next-generation solutions.

The Prithvi-I, inducted in 1996, served as India’s first indigenously developed short-range ballistic missile. With a range of 150 kilometers, it played a crucial role in bolstering India’s early missile capabilities. Production of the Prithvi-I was discontinued shortly after its induction, with only a limited number stockpiled. Due to its reliance on less readily available liquid fuel and lower accuracy compared to modern alternatives, the Prithvi-I was quietly phased out.

The Prithvi-II, inducted post-2004, offered an extended range of 350 kilometres. While it saw wider deployment compared to the Prithvi-I, advancements in missile technology have rendered it “obsolete” in some respects. Its dependence on liquid fuel continues to be a logistical hurdle, and its accuracy may not meet the standards of modern warfare. Despite a training launch in 2023, Prithvi-II’s retirement by 2030 is on the horizon.

India’s focus has shifted towards more advanced solutions. The Pralay, India’s first tactical quasi-ballistic missile, is poised to replace the Prithvi-II. Boasting a range of 150-500 kilometres, the Pralay offers greater operational flexibility and improved accuracy. Its solid-fuel propulsion system simplifies logistics and enhances deployment readiness.

The Indian Army and SFC’s decision to phase out the Prithvi missiles underscores India’s continuous strive for a modern and effective missile arsenal. The Pralay’s induction marks a significant step forward, and future advancements in SRBM technology are likely to be closely monitored and integrated as needed.

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