According to the Indian armed forces, the Akash surface-to-air missile will be tested this Sunday, from the Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur, Orissa.
The missile, which was first inducted in to the Indian Armed Forces in 2008, underwent several tests later, as technical issues and flaws were discovered later. During the test, which is estimated to take place this Sunday, a Pilot-less Target Aircraft (PTA) will be intercepted and destroyed by the missile launched from a wheeled platform.
The Akash missile is capable of destroying aircrafts which are 20 miles away, with altitude up to 60,000 feet. The missile can be fitted with nuclear warheads and is capable of carrying a conventional warhead of up to 60 kg. The missile was developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and jointly manufactured by the Bharat Electronics Limited and the Bharat Dynamics Limited. The development of the missile was done as a part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP). There are two versions of the Akash missile available, one each for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Army.
The Akash missiles are supported by indigenously developed passive phased array radar “Rajendra”. The radar was also developed by the DRDO. The Rajendra is a multifunction radar, capable of tracking as many as 64 targets and controlling up to 12 missiles simultaneously. Indian defence experts have drawn comparisons for the Akash missile system with the American MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile system. Indians claim that similar to the MIM-104, the Akash is capable of neutralizing aerial targets such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), fighter jets, cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles.
Ravi Kumar Gupta, senior DRDO official dismissed the fears about the technical snags in Akash, saying that all the recent tests of the missile have been successful. He said that the latest test will help the armed forces to analyse the effectiveness and capability of the missile. The Indian Army, which is conducting the missile test this week, plans to induct two Akash regiments (containing approximately two thousand missiles) to replace its antiquated Russian 2K12 Kub (SA-6) missiles.
The IAF is planning to induct a total of 1,000 Akash missiles in 8 squadrons, which will increase its defence capabilities. According to Indian officials, the The Isayev S-125 Pechora surface-to-air missile, which the IAF is currently using, will be phased out in favour of the Akash missile. The induction of the missiles is estimated to cost the Indian Armed Forces some INR 233 billion.