INDIAN HOMEGROWN AIR DEFENSE MISSILE ENTERS SERIAL PRODUCTION STAGE
By Bulbul Singh
23 Aug 08. Indian defense ministry has cleared the serial production of homegrown Akash air defense system which will only be manufactured by Indian private and state-owned companies. “It is for the first time that a major homegrown designed and developed defence system, will be built by a consortium of both state-owned and private sector defence companies” said a senior Indian defence ministry official.
The Akash theatre missile is indigenously designed and developed by the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation [DRDO]
Under a project which began in the 1980’s. Indian DRDO scientists claim the Akash is equivalent to the U.S. Patriot 1 system, the Russian Buk-M12 and France’s Aster system.
The Akash however will now be built by a consortium of state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL)and Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL)and three private sector entities, including Larsen and Toubro Ltd, (L&T), and Tata Power Ltd.
BDL will be the lead agency in the production of the missile, with BEL making the radars. The private sector defence companies L&T, Tata Power and Walchandnagar Industries Ltd would build systems such as mobile launchers, engines and software control systems. It is estimated that more than 100 small and medium enterprises will also be involved in the production of the Akash missile through outsourcing jobs of auxiliary and spare.
The serial production of the home-grown Akash missile was cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council, the highest body in the Defence Ministry on procurement. The Akash missile project estimated at over $1bn will be built by the consortium under the Make Category of the Defence Procurement Procedures.
The Akash, which is intended to replace the Army’s Russian-made Kvadart air defense missile, will have a range of 25 kilometers, is a first-stage fuel booster motor and a second-stage ram rocket motor. It is guided by an onboard homing system and the homegrown Rajendra ground radar, whose 4-8 gigahertz G/H band antenna array has 4,000 elements.
The 5.6 m long missile has a launch weight of 700 kg and can carry 60 kg of warhead and the radar is capable of tracking 64 targets and guide up to 12 missiles simultaneously in a fully autonomous mode of operation.
The Akash is designed to defend large installations, like airfields, against enemy air attacks. One battery of Akash missiles will consist of three tracked vehicles mounted with four missiles each and a vehicle carrying a phased-array radar. After the enemy target is detected, the Akash will align to the radar beams tracking the enemy target in the first few seconds of detection and then home onto the target at a speed of more than 3.5 Mach.