I was told not to be a fool by a retired brigadier, an authority on nukes. The Prahaar, he said, was based on the army's tactical requirements for a weapon that fell between the 40-km range Pinaka missile system and the 150-km range Prithvi, which is actually a strategic weapon. Having double the range of the Nasr does give the Prahaar a deterrent value, he said. The Pakistanis would have to think twice before deploying the Nasr in any conflict. But that's about it.
DRDO sources told me that a nuclear wearhead cannot be mounted on the Prahaar as that would weigh around 500 kg. The Prahaar can only carry a conventional warhead which would weigh around 250 kg. In any case, there is no need for the Prahaar to be a nuclear weapon. The Prithvi missile, which can mount a 500-kg to 1,000-kg warhead, is already operational.
The Prahaar has other advantages. It is truck mounted and fired in a salvo of six. Unlike the Pinaka it is precision guided missile thereby minimising the possibility of collateral damage.
The DRDO said the Prahaar had been under development for well over two years. The comparison with the Nasr probably arose because the Pakistani missile was tested about three months ago. Journalists, all too inclined to draw quick conclusions, saw this as India's response. Others even commending the DRDO for the speed with which the Prahaar was designed, developed and tested.
The last word from the outgoing Air Chief P V Naik. "Tactical or strategic the Nasr is a nuclear weapon.So obviously our response will be absolutely violent. This is as per our existing policy," says Air Chief Naik.
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