Chandipore-on-Sea, Orissa: India Wednesday tested its medium-range surface-to-air missile, Akash, twice from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur-on-sea, some 230 km from the state capital Bhubaneswar, between 1.45 p.m. and 2 p.m, defence sources said. The missiles capable of tracking multiple targets and carrying live warheads were fired at a flying object towed by a pilot-less aircraft (PTA).
Akash, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), weighs 650-700kg and has a range of 30 kilometres. The missile uses an integrated two-stage ramjet propulsion technology to carry a 55kg warhead.
The Akash has already undergone three test firings over the last four days, which have all been described as being successful.
Before the start of the tests defence sources had said that the tests would continue for a period of ten days. The missile is currently being fine tuned to the specifications and performance parameters of its principal user, the Indian Air Force.
Akash and the Integrated Air Defence System
The Integrated Air Defence System and Akash SAM tests have been launched even as the country has let it be known that it will begin development of an 'Agni-IV' version that would be able to traverse a distance of 5,000-7,000km.
The modified, extended range Agni-III version would be capable of striking cities such as Beijing from deep inside India, and also target the European continent.
India is developing a range of ballistic and cruise missiles as a deterrent to neighbours China and Pakistan. These include the Prithvi and Agni family of missiles, the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, and now the Nishant sub-sonic cruise missile.
As part of its stunningly successful Ballistic Missile Defence system it has already tested a two-tier exo-atmospheric and endo-atmospheric missile defence systems. These tests have now put the country in the company of only three other countries in the world that have such systems and technologies, the US, Russia and Israel.
Meanwhile, a salvo of two Akash surface-to-air missiles was fired on a single target yesterday in an attempt to increase the kill probability. The test was successful, scientists said, validating the overall maturity of the integrated air defence system being developed along with the Akash SAM system.
Scientists said that both the missiles hit the target simultaneously, which was being towed by a Lakshya PTA. The 'kill' was achieved at an altitude of 400mts and at a distance of 17km, at a speed of 700km/per hour. The test deployed the Rajendra-2 and Rajendra-3 radars. Scientists said that the event showed the capabilities of the radar, the supporting systems and the launcher to guide more than one missile against the same target. They said that this is now a big milestone in the development of the Akash system.
Reports quote Dr Prahlada, chief controller, R&D (services interaction) as saying that in these tests, not only Akash, but also the functioning of the integrated air defence system has been validated. The event is path breaking as it allows the country to break away from imported systems.
He also said that the Akash system would be customised and perfected as per user requirements. In this case it happens to be the Indian Air Force.
The next test firing is due on 22 December.
The Akash missile uses an Integral Ram Rocket (IRR) solid propulsion system, which gives it a very high-speed intercept range of 30km. The missile has an all-up weight of 720kg and a length of nearly 6m.The digital on-board command and guidance unit coupled with a highly responsive actuator system, makes the missile highly manoeuvrable up to 15g loads and a tail chase capability for end game engagement. A digital proximity fuse is coupled with a 55kg pre-fragmented warhead, while the safety arming and detonation mechanism enables a controlled detonation sequence. A self-destruct device is also integrated.