Seven months after the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully flight-tested “Akash Prime”, the latest version of the indigenously developed medium range, surface to air missile (SAM) system Akash, the Indian Army has sent a proposal to the Union government to acquire two regiments of the air defence system.
Capable of simultaneously engaging multiple targets in group mode or autonomous mode, the Akash missile system has a built-in Electronic Counter-Counter Measures (ECCM) features and has been configured for a mobile platform. The full system comprises a launcher, set of missiles, a control centre, a built-in mission guidance system, a C4I (command, control communication and intelligence) centre and supporting ground equipment in addition to its radar, which has been christened Rajendra.
Presently, the Army has four Akash regiments. Consisting of four 3D phased array radars (Rajendra), the Akash battery comprises of four launchers with three missiles each.
Last September, the Akash Prime missile had successfully intercepted and destroyed an unmanned aerial target that mimicked an enemy aircraft. The missile system was developed by the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad, in collaboration with other DRDO laboratories under the Missiles and Strategic Systems (MSS). It is manufactured by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).
Officials from the DRDO told Frontline that though the Akash Prime had an operational range similar to its predecessor—27-30 km and a flight altitude of around 18 km—it was equipped with an indigenously developed active radio frequency (R.F.) seeker for improved accuracy. Other improvements have also been incorporated into the missile in order to ensure a more reliable performance under low-temperature environments at higher altitudes.