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Akash Prime successfully test-fired: New lethal missile adds firepower to India's armed forces

  • September 28 2021

In comparison to the existing Akash System, Akash Prime is equipped with an indigenous active Radio Frequency seeker for improved accuracy

A new version of the Akash missile was successfully flight-tested on Monday from the integrated test range at Chandipur in Odisha. The missile —'Akash Prime' — intercepted and destroyed an unmanned aerial target mimicking an enemy aircraft in its maiden flight test. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Chairman G Satheesh Reddy said the Akash Prime system will further boost the confidence of the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force as the Akash system is already inducted and now getting improved with more lethal missiles.

A step above the Akash

The Akash Prime is a medium-range mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) system developed by the DRDO and produced by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL). The Akash SAM was developed to replace the Russian 2K12 Kub (SA-6 Gainful) missile system, currently in service. The Akash Prime is equipped with a homegrown Radio Frequency seeker which imparts an improved accuracy while intercepting targets in various conditions, including under a low-temperature environment in high altitude operational areas such as the northern and northeastern frontiers.

Apart from the missile system, the ground launcher of the existing Akash weapon was also modified for its advanced variant. Akash is the cheapest SAM with a range of 27 km ever produced in the world with supersonic interception capability. With command guidance system, multiple target handling features and automated air defence operations, it stands out unique amongst the available short and medium range missiles in its class.

The nuclear-capable missile can fly at a speed of up to Mach 2.5 (nearly 860 metre per second) at a maximum height of 18 km. It can strike enemy aerial targets like fighter jets, drones, cruise missiles, air-to-surface missiles as well as ballistic missiles from a distance of 30 km. According to the DRDO, Akash outclasses in performance compared to the short range missile systems offered by various countries in range, altitude, average speed, low cost per kill and built in electronic counter measures. The system can defend an area at least 10 times better compared to any SAM besides having a wider no escape zone.

Other variants

The Akash-NG-another variant of the Akash Missile was successfully flight-tested in the month of July. Developed by Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad in collaboration with other DRDO laboratories, Akash-NG is being produced by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL). A surface-to-air missile, Akash-NG can strike targets at a distance of around 60 km and fly at a speed of up to Mach 2.5. Both Akash Prime and Akash NG are variants of the Akash Missile, India’s first indigenously produced medium-range Surface to Air missile. The missile is reportedly cheaper and more accurate than America’s Patriot missiles due to its solid-fuel technology and high-tech radars.

Reactions to the Akash Prime

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated the defence forces for the successful flight trial of the missile. He added that a successful test of the missile proves the competence of the DRDO in the development, design and production of world-class missile systems. Meanwhile, DRDO chairman congratulated the team for the successful flight trial of Akash Prime Missile. He said that the Akash Prime system will further boost the confidence of the users (Indian Army and Indian Air Force). The feat is significant as it marks a step ahead in India's much-focused Aatmanirbhar Bharat mission, which lays a special emphasis on self-reliance in defence.

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