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New surface-to-air missile set for induction in forces

Source: PTI
January 07, 2008 22:00 IST
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Akash, an indigenously developed medium-range surface-to-air missile system, has successfully completed test trials and is all set for induction into the defence forces, a top scientist of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said on Monday.

"We expect the clearance from Defence Acquisition Council in a couple of months. Once we get the go-ahead, the production will commence and the first set of missile systems will be delivered in three years time," Chief Controller, R&D, DRDO, Prahlada told media persons.

The Indian Air Force has already initiated the process, while the Army was expected to move the file soon, he said.      

The DRDO, which has developed the state-of-the-art multi-directional and multi-target missile with a range of 25 km, is hopeful of getting Rs 5,000 crore worth business over the next years from Air Force and the Army.

"After conducting seven successful flight tests for accurate guidance and consistent performance, we have conclusively demonstrated that Akash meets all the requirements. We are ready for production," he said.

Along with Bharat Electronics and Bharat Dynamics Ltd, several private organisations would be involved in production of the missiles.

"Once we get the go-ahead, the first two squadrons of missile systems will be delivered in three years and the subsequent systems will be upgraded depending on the requirement of the users," Prahlada said.

Conceived in 1984 by former President A P J Abdul Kalam when he was the head of DRDO, the Akash project was originally scheduled for completion in 12 years but it took 21 years to come to fruition.

Over 1,000 scientists across 13 DRDO laboratories and several public and private organisations were involved in the Rs 500-crore project.

Asked about plans to export the missile technology, Prahlada said the DRDO had sought permission from the Defence and External Affairs Ministries.

"As of today, the government is not agreeable to it. Some countries have shown interest in importing Akash missile system. It is our dream to export missile technology," the scientist said.

Under the next phase of missile development programme, the DRDO was working on Long Range Surface-to-air Missiles (LR SAM), which have a range of 70 km, with international collaboration, Prahlada said but declined to name the countries with whom the joint research will be done.

Unlike Akash, which took 21 years to develop, the LR SAM can be developed in five years, he said.

The unique features of Akash include the capability of attacking multiple targets, use of ramjet propulsion system that enables maintenance of required speeds without deceleration, Project director of Akash R R Panyam said.

The missile is supported by a multi-target and multi-function phased array fire control radar called 'Rajendra.' While the missile meant for the Army can be launched from tracked vehicles such as battle tanks, the Air Force version can take off from wheeled vehicles. Akash can be deployed by rail, road or air.
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