BALASORE: Days after the concern of the Army over the efficiency of the indigenous Akash surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, the DRDO seemed to be on a mission mode. It has planned a series of user trials of the missile system from a defence base off the Odisha coast next week.
According to reports, the Army had recently declared Akash missile a dud and floated a global tender to procure an alternative weapon system to protect the country from aerial threats. The Army’s move embarrassed the DRDO at a time when the country was celebrating Akash system as the first initiative of the much hyped ‘Make-in-India’ programme.
Perturbed over the observations, the DRDO is all set to carry out a series of user specific tests of Akash from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur on sea. The tests planned to be conducted between April 11 and 15 aim at checking the technical parameters set for the user.
A source told ‘The Express’ on Saturday that the indigenously developed missile would be flight tested from a make-shift launcher on helipad near launching complex -III of the ITR. The missile would be fired targeting the pilot-less target aircraft (PTA) Lakshya as an aerial target.
“Preparation for the mission has reached final stage. Both the Akash team and PTA team are ready for the tests. Pre-mission check-ups are being conducted and the missile is expected to be flight tested as per the schedule,” said a defence official.
Akash missile system is uniquely configured and customised both for Indian Army and Air Force. It has a strike range of 30 km and can be fired from both tracked and wheeled platforms. The Army version of Akash is being produced by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) as the nodal production agency with the involvement of Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and some other industries.
Developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) of the DRDO, Akash was formally inducted in the Army on May 5 and in the Air Force on July 10 last year. Although the DRDO spent more than `1,000 crore in its development in the last three decades, the missile has failed to meet the requirement of the Army.
After years of rejection allegedly for the faults in the missile system, even as the Army had finally agreed to accept the modified version and ordered two Akash regiments worth around `20,000 crore last year, the tender allowing the missile manufacturers from abroad to participate indicates that the homegrown weapon has failed to allure the user.