medium-range, surface-to-air missile (SAM) missile system

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has received the domestically-built medium-range, surface-to-air missile (SAM) missile system, Akash, Indian Defence Minister AK Antony said.

Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) as part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme, the all-weather missile system provides multi-directional and multi-target area defence.

The 5.78m-long missile has a 25-30km operational range, 2.5 Mach speed and 720kg launch weight, and consists of a launcher, control centre, multifunction fire control radar and supporting ground equipment.

Capable of operating autonomously, the missile provides flexible deployment and can be launched from both static and mobile platforms whilst retaining the capability of simultaneously engaging and neutralising different aerial targets.

The medium-range Akash missile is capable of destroying manoeuvring targets such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), fighter aircraft, cruise missiles and missiles launched from helicopters.

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The weapon system features high mobility, all-the-way powered flight till target interception, multiple target handling, digitally-coded command guidance and fully automatic operation.

Considered as the Indian ‘Patriot’ equivalent, the Akash SAM system will be the mainstay for India’s Air Defence up to the 2030s & beyond and is intended to replace the Russian 2K12 Kub (SA-6 Gainful) missile system, which is currently in service.

In 2008, the IAF introduced its indigenous SAM system after modifying the army version of the missile to meet mobility and gradeability requirements and conducted nine successful field trials.

The first batch of the weapon missile system will be inducted in the northeastern borders of the country, as part of a major war exercise to be held in the region.

Image: IAF’s indigenously designed and developed Akash surface-to-air missile is being test fired. Photo: Frontier India Defense and Strategic News Service.