IAF inducts the Akash missile

May 11th, 2008 - 4:28 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Akash missile
By Gulshan Luthra
New Delhi, May 11 (IANS) The Indian Air Force (IAF) has decided to induct two squadrons of the indigenous Akash Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM). The all-weather, multi-target missile was accepted by the IAF recently after nine successful field trials, including a ripple fire in the electronic clutter, according to Dr Prahlada (uses only one name), Distinguished Scientist and Chief Controller in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Prahlada is quoted in the coming issue of India Strategic defence magazine as saying that although the missile was declared ready for induction after a December 2007 test, some fine-tuning was required and the project is now being handed over to public and private sector industries for manufacturing the required numbers.

In all the tests, he said, accuracy of the system was established.

Besides the public sector Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) and Electronics Corporation of India (ECIL), the private sector Larsen and Toubro and Tata Power could be involved in its manufacture.

The army has also expressed willingness to accept the Akash, but some modification in the launch platform for better “mobility and gradeability” was being done to meet its requirement.

A squadron has 18 batteries, and the IAF requirement for the Akash type of missile is estimated at five to seven squadrons. A single battery can engage four targets simultaneously.

India Strategic quoted Prahlada as saying that while the DRDO developed a sophisticated system, its further development was always possible in accordance with availability of newer technologies. The modular capability is there, and there would be sufficient resources with the manufacturing industry to do the needful in this regard.

He pointed out that there was a time for instance, when Indian scientists had to fabricate even nuts and bolts due to the technology denial regimes against India. That’s why projects were delayed, but not any more.

Today, he disclosed, some 14 countries were willing to cooperate with the DRDO in developing missiles and other defence systems. Besides Russia, which has partnered in the development of the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile, the US, France, Germany and UK were all ready to provide the required technologies to India.

Prahlada paid compliments to the DRDO scientists, as it was because of their efforts and successes that the world was now willing to work together with them. The Prithvi and Agni series of missiles, as well as the BrahMos, all exemplified their efforts.

He said that it was not easy to develop missiles, particularly when one had to conceive, design, fabricate and test every component oneself.

The effort now was to go in for Commercially available Off the Shelf (COTS) components from the international markets, and that would also help in further development of various systems as well as in cutting the timeline.

Giving details about the Akash, Prahlada said that it would be able to hit aerial targets from the treetop level to a height of 30 km. The missile uses ramjet propulsion with solid fuel, which means that it would not lose velocity, and its warhead would be a proximity fuse.

The heart of the Akash missile system is the indigenous Phased Array 3-D Central Acquisition Rajendra Radar (CAR) which can detect range, azimuth and height of an incoming threat. Developed by Bharat Electronics Ltd. It can detect 100 targets electronically and engage many of them automatically.

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