BALASORE: Surface-to-air supersonic missile Akash on Friday completed its training user trials successfully validating all mission parameters as set by the Indian Air Force (IAF) team. Two rounds of the missile were fired in quick succession and the weapon system achieved ‘direct-hit’ destroying aerial targets.
This was last test in the series conducted for five consecutive days from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur off the Odisha coast. Altogether nine missiles picked up randomly from the production lot were used during the trials started on Monday.
Defence sources said during Friday's trial two medium range nuclear capable Akash missiles were fired from the launching complex-III of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in between 12 noon and 12.40 pm, minutes after the aerial targets were flown from the launching complex-II of the same test facility.
“While the first missile successfully destroyed a fast moving aerial target at a low altitude, the second missile had a direct hit with the unmanned aerial target Banshee Jet 80 nearly 4-km away at 35 meter altitude above sea level proving the system’s capability against subsonic cruise missile. On Thursday and Wednesday the missile too had successfully destroyed the aerial targets,” the source said. With this, the IAF is said to have completed the training user trials of the indigenously developed sleek missile which is proven to be the best in its class. Besides providing the IAF and Army for their battle field support, DRDO, which has developed the missile, is all set to export the weapon system to the countries which have shown interest on it.
Apart from the missile, British made Banshee Jet 80 which was used as targets too have performed very well. Banshee is an aerial target for surface-to-air and air-to-air weapon systems. The aircraft is designed to float for overwater operations recovery.
Developed from the successful Banshee target, which continues as the workhorse of choice to meet the world’s air defence training requirements, this new, twin jet engine version has been produced using knowledge and experience gained whilst operating the single jet engine variant which entered service in 2010.
This latest version is fitted with twin, 40-Kg thrust gas turbine engines giving a total of 80-kg of static thrust. This offers an increase in the maximum straight and level airspeed of up to 180 metres/second.
Length of the target vehicle is about 2.80 meters to 2.98 meters, wingspan 2.49 meters and height 0.78 meter. It weighs around 80 kg. Travelling at a maximum speed of 180 km/h, it can fly nearly 45 minutes with a service ceiling of 8,000 meter. This aerial target, considered as best in the world in its class, has been inducted in the Indian army and navy. At least 44 countries are using this vehicle as target, the source added.
On the other hand, Akash mobile air defence weapon system has been designed, developed and led to production by DRDO for defending and protecting the important assets of the country from penetrating aerial attacks. Having a strike range of 25 kms, it can fly at supersonic speed of around 2.5 Mach and can reach an altitude of 18 kms.