In a boost to the country’s air defence shield, Indian Air Force (IAF) on Tuesday successfully test fired supersonic Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) Akash from a defence test facility off Odisha coast providing much needed push to the Make-in-India initiative.
The indigenously developed missile was fired from the Launching Complex – III of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) against an electronic target. The entire flight and point of interception was captured by the electro-optical tracking system, said a defence official.
The trial assumes significance as India is planning to deploy a squadron of Akash along the North-East border to thwart air attacks from China. The missile will be test fired against an actual target on Wednesday.
With Vietnam evincing interest to purchase the medium range high speed sleek missile, Akash is considered the first successful model of the Make-in-India initiative. The missions validating the weapon’s operational efficiency will pave the way for its series of production and deployment.
With a strike range of 30 km, the 5.8-metre-long missile has a launch weight of 720 kg and can carry a warhead of 50 kg. The missile is crucial to India’s air defence programme as it will be used to counter ballistic and cruise missiles, enemy aircraft and air-to-surface missiles.
Similar to the Patriot air-to-surface missile system of the US, it can track 64 targets simultaneously and the inbuilt radar can provide command to the launcher to fire 12 missiles at a time. Fuelled by solid propellants, it can handle multiple targets with the help of a digitally-coded command and guidance system.
Prior to the test of Akash system, the Air Force personnel flight tested Italian Pilot Less Target Aircraft (PTA) Mirach from the Launching Complex – I of the ITR. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flew for about 45 minutes proving its consistency.
The Mirach is of typical twin-boom pusher-prop battlefield surveillance UAV. It can be used for range validation sorties and simulating purposes. The 3.85 meter long and 1.27 meter high UAV can attain a height of 3.5 km and fly for nearly an hour.
“The sub-sonic and re-usable aerial target system is remote controlled from the ground and designed to impart training to both air borne and air defence pilots. It will be used as a target for Akash mission on Wednesday,” informed the official.
New Indian Express