BALASORE: Indian army on Monday successfully conducted a user trial of medium range supersonic Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) Akash from a defence base off the Odisha coast. The missile was fired targeting a pilot-less target aircraft (PTA).
The test was conducted days after the army declared the weapon system a ‘dud’ and expressed its reluctance to accept the missile. After getting two regiments of Akash missiles with six firing batteries worth over Rs 15,000 crore, the army had claimed that the missile could not provide desired results on field.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which had developed the missile indigenously, seemed to be undeterred over the sudden change of mind of the army which is now planning to procure Israeli systems. According to the DRDO officials at Hyderabad, Akash missile is the only missile of its kind now available in the world.
Besides providing the army and air force for the battle field support, DRDO is all set to export the weapon system to the countries which have shown interest on it. “It is a useful weapon for both the army and air force and first successful model of the ‘Make-in-India’ initiative. The armed forces are scheduled to carry out a couple of more tests in next few days,” they informed.
The missile was launched from the launching complex-III of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-sea at about 12.35 pm. The test was aimed at gauging the flight consistency and effectiveness of the missile besides ascertaining the serviceability of the system in various conditions.
A defence official from New Delhi said the mission boosted the air defence shield of the country and re-validated the weapon’s operational efficiency. The missile was aimed at intercepting the aerial vehicle 'Banshee' at a definite altitude over the Bay of Bengal. The entire flight of Akash was captured by electro-optical tracking systems, he informed.
Akash is a medium-range surface-to-air missile and it can reach targets 30 km away. The 5.8-metre-long sleek missile has a launch weight of 720 kg and can carry a warhead of 50 kg. The missile is crucial to India's air defence programme as it will be used to counter ballistic and cruise missiles, enemy aircrafts and air-to-surface missiles.
The Akash missile system which is similar to the American Patriot air-to-surface missile system can track 64 targets simultaneously and the inbuilt radar can provide command to the launcher to fire 12 missiles at a time. The development of Akash missile had taken place under the country’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) three decades ago. Akash was formally inducted in the Army on May 5 and in the Air Force on July 10 last year.