On 3 August 1998 India fired its most sophisticated medium range surface-to-air missile named Akash (which means sky) from a test range at Chandipur on sea.
Akash was developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories Board and Bharat Electronics. In 1990 the first test flight of Akash was conducted with development flights up to March 1997. The development of this missile cost Rs. 1,000 crore, which included a Rs. 600 crore project sanction, which is lower than the cost of similar development in other countries. Akash’s unique features include, all-the-way-powered flight till target interception, multiple target handling, mobility, digitally-coded command guidance and fully automatic operation.
A surface-to-air missile, Akash has an intercept rage of 30 km, a launch weight of 720 kg, a diameter of 35 cm and a length of 5.78 meters. Akash can reach an altitude of 18 km and can be fired from either stationary or wheeled platforms. The missile is maneuverable up to 15 kg loads because of an on board guidance system, along with an actuation system. It also contains a digital proximity fuse with a 55 kg pre-fragmented warhead. There is also a safety arming and detonating mechanism, which allows a controlled detonation sequence. Also integrated in the missile is a self destruction device. The missile is propelled by an integrated Ramjet Rocket Engine, which allows for continued speed with deceleration throughout the flight. The missile is also equipped with command guidance throughout the flight.
Each Akash battery contains four self propelled launchers and each battery can tackle up to four targets at a given time. One Akash missile has an 88% probability of destroying its target. To increase this probability to 98.5%, two missiles can also be fired within five seconds of each other.
The Indian Air Force completed trails for Akash in December 2007. These trails which were spread over ten days were announced successful after Akash managed to hit its target five times. The Indian Air Force was pleased with the performance of Akash after rigorous flight trials and adopted the weapon. An order for two squadrons was placed initially, which increased by the year and by 2010 the Air Force had ordered 6 more squadrons. By February 2010, Akash had become an important part of the arsenal of the Indian Air Force and was also being deployed in the North East of India. By November 2012 Akash was officially included in the Indian Air Force at a function in Hyderabad.
By June 2010, The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) placed an order for Akash. The Indian Army also intended to enlist two regiments of the missile. By 2011 it was reported that the Army had placed an order for 2 Akash regiments, which would replace the Army’s 2SA-6 Groups which were chosen in 1977 and 1979.
Apart from India it has been reported that even Malaysia is keen on making a purchase of the Akash missile.
Also on This Day:
1780: Gwalior Fort was captured by Captain Bruce under Major Popham.
1985: Baba Amte received Ramon Magsaysay award for public service.
1886: Maithili Sharan Gupt, Hindi scholar was born.