Army User Trial of Akash Missile Likely Today
BALASORE :In a maiden attempt, Indian Army is likely to carry out a user specific trial of indigenously built surface-to-air missile (SAM) Akash targeting the UK-made multi-functional pilotless target aircraft (PTA) Banshee from a defence base off the Odisha coast on Wednesday.
Although a similar trial was planned on Tuesday afternoon, the PTA reportedly fell down three minutes after it took off from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-sea, about 15 km from Balasore.
The sophisticated medium range Akash missile was to be targeted to Banshee. However, the missile could not be fired as the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) fell down. Sources said the aircraft covered only 500 metres before plunging into the Bay of Bengal.
However, ITR Director MVKV Prasad denied any such test and said Akash missile will be test-fired targeting Banshee likely on Wednesday.
Defence sources said the British target drone developed for air defence systems training was being used by Indian Army for the first time to gauge the operational effectiveness of the Akash SAM system. In August last year, two complete Banshee systems, including 35 Banshee targets, were accepted by the Indian Army.
The Banshee is built mostly out of composite material (Kevlar and glass-reinforced plastic) with a tailless delta wing platform. It is an aerial target for surface-to-air and air-to-air weapon system.
The aircraft is designed to float for over water operations recovery. Its installable options include radar enhancement devices and target sleeves. It can simulate a sea-skimming missile or serve as a scouting UAV with a camera.
While length of the PTA is about 2.84 m, wingspan 2.49 m and height 0.86 m, it weighs around 73 kg. Travelling at a maximum speed of 200 km/h, it can fly for nearly 75 minutes with a service ceiling of 23,000 ft. India made Lakshya PTA can fly only 35 to 40 minutes.
On May 28, Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel for the first time successfully test-fired surface-to-air nuclear capable supersonic missile Akash in ripple mode from the ITR.
Akash missile having a strike range of 30 km was developed under Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) for both for Indian Army and Air Force.
The missile is often evaluated against the American Patriot surface-to-air missile (SAM). The Army has planned to deploy two Akash regiments, containing nearly 2000 missiles.