Air Force places orders for Akash missile production

A file photo of the Akash missiles on display.

A file photo of the Akash missiles on display.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: Ramesh Sharma

T.S. Subramaniam

This follows a 10-day successful drill in December 2007

CHENNAI: The Indian Air Force (IAF) has placed orders for the production of Akash, a surface-to-air missile, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The orders have been placed in the wake of a 10-day successful drill in December 2007 that involved the launch of several Akash missiles by its user, the IAF, from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur-on-sea, Orissa.

Prahlada, Chief Controller, R&D, DRDO, said the IAF placed “initial orders for some squadrons” of the Akash missile and that “the orders will continue.”

The orders would come in lots. Mr. Prahlada said he was happy over the development on two counts. First, this might pave the way for the Army to place orders for Akash. Second, during field and user trials, the performance of the Akash missile was comparable to the best in the surface-to-air missile class in the world. The missile demonstrated its consistency, accuracy and easy operability.

In user trials last December, “a real C4I (that is, command, control, communication, computer and intelligence) was integrated in the Akash and demonstrated in field conditions,” Mr. Prahlada said. It was a totally automated operation too.

“The Akash is an anti-aircraft missile with a launch weight of 720 kg, a length of 5.8 metres and a diameter of 35 cm. It can reach aircraft flying 25 km away. It uses solid propellants as fuel. It can handle multiple targets by means of a digitally coded command and guidance system.”

The DRDO would conduct trials of Nag, an anti-tank missile, in August 2008.

Astra launch

“Things are moving” for the launch of India’s Astra, an air-to-air missile developed by the DRDO, Mr. Prahlada said. Astra had already been launched three times. The launches were, however, in the surface-to-air mode. The coming launch for the fourth time would also be in the surface-to-air mode.

“The Astra has a smokeless propulsion system. It is 3.5 metres long and weighs 154 kg. It has a launch speed of 0.4 Mach to 2 Mach. One Mach equals the speed of sound. When the air-to-air version is developed, the Astra can be launched from Su 30 MKI (Mark India), Mirage 2000, MiG-29 and the Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas,” he said.

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