Is India’s Short-Range Prithvi-II Missile More Powerful Than Its Pakistani Counterpart ‘Ghaznavi’?

Is India’s homegrown nuclear-capable short-range ballistic Prithvi-II missile more powerful than its Pakistani counterpart, ‘Ghaznavi’? Islamabad claims to have successfully test-launched its surface-to-surface short-range missile ‘Ghaznavi’.

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The Ghaznavi missile, capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads, has been designed and developed by Pakistan’s National Development Complex. The first version of the missile entered service with the Pakistan Army’s strategic command in 2004.

Between September and December last year, India had conducted a series of tests of the Prithvi surface-to-surface missile. While Ghaznavi can carry 700 kg of nuclear or conventional warheads, Prithvi-II is capable of carrying up to 1000 kg of warheads.

This Scud-type Ghaznavi missile has a range of around 290 kilometers and is named after the Turkic invader Mahmud of Ghazni. The missile is also known as Hatf-III Ghaznavi under the Hatf family of ballistic missiles. According to independent sources, the missile has a launch weight of over 5200 kg and is powered by a solid-fuel rocket motor. The development of Ghaznavi is purportedly influenced by the Chinese M-11 missile.

The attribution to the Chinese missile is also interesting, as initially, the Pakistan government was actively pushing for acquiring the M-11 missiles from Beijing with the intention of quick deployment. It is said Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto had personally lobbied with China for the M-11 missiles in the late 1980s but was unable to do so due to intense pressure mounted by the United States and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

The missile is a slightly enlarged version of the M-11 (also known as DF-11), having a length of 9.64m and diameter of 0.99m, compared to 8.5m and 0.86m of the Chinese missile. However, Pakistani officials maintained that the weapon is indigenously built having no foreign connections.

While Islamabad has conducted the Ghaznavi test, India is also making rapid strides in its missile technologies under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).

Compared to the Hatf-III Ghaznavi, the Indian Prithvi-II is powered by a liquid fuel single-stage rocket motor, having a range of around 250-350 kilometers. According to reports, the 9-meter tall missile is the first to have been developed by India’s Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) under IGMDP. It is India’s first indigenous surface-to-surface strategic missile.

The sophisticated missile uses an advanced inertial guidance system.