They were fired from road mobile launchers by IAF in validation trials

Flying at supersonic speed, two Akash surface-to-air missiles destroyed fast-moving aerial targets over the Bay of Bengal on Friday. They were fired in quick succession from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, off the Odisha coast, on Friday.

The missiles, fired from road mobile launchers as part of the post-induction validation trials by the Air Force, hit the fast-moving tow bodies of Pilotless Target Aircraft Lakshya. All the mission events, including the end-game warhead detonation in proximity mode, were successfully demonstrated by the users, sources in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said.

The missiles, randomly selected from the production lot and launched in a gap of 10 minutes of each other, flew at 2.5 Mach, intercepting targets that moved at 160 metres a second.

The first missile intercepted an in-bound target in a 23-km range after Lakshya reached an altitude of 2.5 km; the second was a “crossing target,” which was intercepted in a 17-km range and at an altitude of 2.5 km.

“All the mission objectives were met,” the sources said.

Except firing, every operation was automated, with the ground systems and the missiles having worked in unison. The flight control radar performed with high accuracy and consistent guidance.

Akash, the medium range anti-aircraft defence system, was developed indigenously as part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme and has been inducted into the Army and the Air Force. Equipped with an integrated ramjet rock propulsion system, it has a 25-30-km strike range, and is supported by the Rajendra radar system, which can simultaneously track 64 targets.

Eight missiles can be launched simultaneously on four targets. Akash has high manoeuvrability, capable of zeroing in on fighter aircraft, in both approach and receding modes. It can carry a 60-kg conventional warhead. Each system comprises the missile, the launcher, the ground system and the radar.

Since May 24, six missiles have been test-fired; on two occasions, they failed to hit the target. Senior officials of Bharat Electronics Limited, Bharat Dynamics Limited, DRDO and representatives of industry witnessed the firing.

G. Chandramouli, deputy project director, Akash weapon system, said it was a “great moment” for Indian industry, which produced sophisticated sub-systems for both the ground systems and the missiles.

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