BALASORE (ODISHA): Days after the Indian army's adverse opinion on the indigenous Akash surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) seems to be on mission mood. 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 the Akash missile a dud and floated a global tender to procure an alternative weapon system to protect the country from aerial threats. Army’s move embarrassed the DRDO at a time when the country was claiming the Akash system as the first initiative of the much hyped ‘Make-in-India’ programme.
Perturbed over the accusations, the DRDO in a bid to prove them wrong 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 reportedly planned to be conducted in between April 11 and 15 aim at checking the technical parameters set for the user.
A reliable source told ‘The New Indian 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 at final stage. Both the Akash team and PTA team are ready for the tests. Pre-mission check-ups are going on and the missile is expected to be test launched 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 nearly 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 Rs 1,000 crore in its development in last three decades, the missile has failed to meet the requirement of the army.
Akash is a mobile, multiple-target handling and medium range air defence missile. After years of rejection allegedly for the faults in the missile system, even as the Army had finally agreed to accept the modified version of the and ordered two Akash regiments worth around Rs 20,000 crore last year, but the tender allowing the missile manufacturers from abroad to participate indicates that the homegrown weapon has failed to allure the user.