‘Indigenous Akash missile will protect India’s vulnerable areas’


New Delhi : The indigenously developed Akash missile that is set for induction by the Indian Air Force (IAF) will plug vital gaps in the air defence cover over the country’s vulnerable and strategic areas like airports, harbours and power plants, besides other strategic locations, a top defence scientist said Tuesday.

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The surface-to-air missile has the capability to thwart hostile aircraft, sub-sonic cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), Prahlada, chief controller of R&D of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), told reporters here.

The indigenously designed and developed air defence system can track and shoot down an enemy aircraft or a helicopter at the height of 25 km within 30 to 45 seconds of a threat being detected.

According to Prahlada, the missile system that operates in tandem with the highly sophisticated Rajendra radar can simultaneously detect up to 60 multiple targets at various heights in all types of weather and engage eight targets at one go.

“The development and successful user trials of the Akash missile by the army and air force (in December) is a major milestone in the country’s missile programme,” the scientist said, adding that the Akash missile was on a par with the best systems in the world, including the US Patriot system.

Admitting that it took more than 20 years to develop the Akash missile system against the target of 12 years, Prahalada said this was because its development had to be started from scratch.

“A team of more than 1,000 scientists and 300 public and private companies worked to develop state of art technologies, radars and other systems for the Akash missile. Therefore, it is a milestone,” the scientist maintained.

Weighing about 700 kg and three-and-a-half metres long, the missile can be ferried to operational areas by rail, road and air and made ready for use within 30 minutes of deployment, Prahlada said.

Capable of network centric operations, the Akash missile was custom built for the army and the air force and the IAF had placed an order for one squadron of the Akash missile, he added.

Akash will replace the Pechora and Kvadrat systems now in use by the IAF and the army respectively.

According to him, one squadron for the IAF would cost about Rs.5 billion, with each missile costing Rs.20 million.

With the Hyderabad-based Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) in a position to produce 100 missiles a year, Prahlada said he expected business of Rs.50 billion to be generated this year.

Asked for a comparison of the Akash and Patriot systems, the scientist said the US technology was more than 20 years old while the Akash was a state-of-the-art system.