Indian Ministry of Defence has issued a tender to local companies to buy six regiments of homemade Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers (MRBL) estimated to be worth $2 billion.
"The indigenous rocket launcher system is required to meet Army's operational necessities and replacing the Russian Grad BM-21 and Smerch rocket systems," an unnamed Indian Army official was quoted as saying by Defensenews.
The order for the acquisition is expected to be placed within 18 months, DefenseNews reported Thursday.
Last December, the ministry placed an order for two regiments totaling a $350 million order for the Pinaka rocket launchers. One regiment constitutes 18 systems. For the new order of six regiments, it would mean a total of 108 MRBLs.
The ministry would be dividing the orders between Bharat Earth Movers, which is state owned and Ordnance Factories (OFB), Larsen & Tourbo, as well as Tata Power SED.
Under the contract, BEML will be providing the vehicles for the rocket launchers; L&T and Tata Power SED will supply the launcher systems; and OFB will supply the rocket ammunition.
L&T and Tata Power SED have designed and developed the Pinaka system with the Defence Research and Development Organization, or DRDO. The Indian Army currently operates two regiments of the Pinaka systems.
The Army needs the extended range Pinaka Mark-II at the earliest, the official added, "however, the latest order is for Pinaka Mark-I with a range of 30 kilometers even though the Indian Army had preferred Pinaka Mark-II, which has a range of up to 65 kilometers but is still under development," the official was quoted as saying.
"Pinaka Mark-II is a developmental program of DRDO. The technical trials have been completed a couple of months back, but the induction decision is awaited." Jayant Damodar Patil, head of defense and aerospace for L&T, was quoted as saying in the same article.