Last month, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) achieved a significant milestone with the successful flight test of the New Generation Akash (Akash-NG) missile from the integrated test range (ITR) in Chandipur, off the coast of Odisha.
During the test, conducted against a high-speed, unmanned aerial target at a very low altitude, the Akash-NG missile system demonstrated its capability by intercepting and destroying the target, as confirmed by DRDO.
The test validated the functionality of the complete weapon system, including the missile with an indigenously developed radio frequency seeker, launcher, multi-function radar, and command, control, and communication systems.
The system’s performance was further corroborated through data captured by various radars, telemetry, and electro-optical tracking systems deployed by ITR, Chandipur.
The Akash surface-to-air missile (SAM) is a key achievement of DRDO’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). The Indian Air Force has already procured five units of the Akash to safeguard its airfields in the North East from potential threats posed by enemy fighter aircraft. Additionally, the Indian Army has acquired two units of the Akash and has placed orders for two more.
The Akash-NG represents a significant improvement over its predecessor, with its weight reduced by half to 350 kilograms from the original Akash’s 700 kilograms. Furthermore, it boasts an increased altitude ceiling of 25 kilometers and a range of 30 kilometers, compared to the Akash’s altitude ceiling of 20 kilometers and range of 25 kilometers.
These enhancements are attributed to the incorporation of a new two-pulse solid rocket motor and a DRDO-developed seeker, which enables target locking during the terminal phase, ensuring precise guidance to the impact point.
DRDO’s post-test statement hailed the Akash-NG as a state-of-the-art missile system capable of intercepting high-speed, agile aerial threats, paving the way for user trials. The Akash-NG’s rapid target engagement capability is underscored by its ability to detect, track, and neutralize enemy aircraft within seconds.
The surveillance radar identifies enemy fighters up to 80 kilometers away, initiating the launch sequence. By the time the enemy aircraft is 50 kilometers away, the missile is launched, reaching the impact point 30 kilometers away within a minute.
Manufactured by Bharat Electronics Limited for the Indian Air Force and integrated by Bharat Dynamics Limited for the army, the Akash missile system boasts indigenization levels exceeding 96 percent, as per the Ministry of Defence.
With its demonstrated prowess, the Akash missile system has garnered interest from countries like Vietnam, the Philippines, and various African nations, signaling its potential as a reliable defence solution against emerging threats.