The Army on Friday successfully flight-tested Akash, the surface-to-air missile developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation, from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, Odisha.

The missile was bang on target — a pilotless aircraft. The Akash weapon system is an all-weather, air defence system for defending valuable assets from aerial attacks. The missile can engage adversarial aircraft flying at a distance of 25 km. It can target fighter-aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters and cruise missiles.

DRDO officials described the Akash launch on Friday as “highly successful” and said it was a user-trial done by the Army. The missile boasted of a command and guidance unit, a proximity fuse and an on-board computer, all developed by the Research Centre, Imarat, situated on the outskirts of Hyderabad. The RCI is a key missile centre of the DRDO. Besides, the RCI developed the gyroscope package, the telemetry system, the missile launch processor and the launch software for Akash.

The advantages of Akash are that it thrusts all the way to intercept the enemy aircraft; it can engage multiple targets; it can be transported by rail, road and air; and it boasts of C4I, that is, command, control, communication and computers, and intelligence.

The DRDO officials called the Akash project “a great success story because it is going to be inducted in large numbers in the Army and the Air Force.” The Army and the Indian Air Force have already placed orders for Rs. 23,000 crore for the defence system. The entire system includes not only the missiles but the command and control system, the radars, the launch platforms and so on. The Defence Acquisition Council has cleared its induction into the Army and the IAF. For the Army, the missile will be mounted on a modified BMP-Infantry Combat Vehicle and the IAF will use it from a fixed platform.

There would be more launches of Akash in the coming days, DRDO officials said.

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