The Ministry of Defence is considering a proposal by the Indian Army to acquire two regiments of the Akash Prime missiles which will enhance the security architecture in the region and help prevent any intrusion of aircraft through the mountainous borders with Pakistan and China, reports Economic Times.
The proposal was discussed at the meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council held on Monday (21 October).
The latest ‘Akash Prime’ missiles have a higher performance range than their predecessors and can be deployed in high altitude areas above 15,000 feet, which becomes extremely important for high altitude regions of Ladakh bordering Pakistan and China.
Aerial targets like fighter jets, cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles as well as ballistic missiles can be destroyed by the Akash missile.
Reportedly, the acquisition of the said regiments would be around Rs 10,000 crore, hinted a few government sources.
It is indigenously developed by Defence Research Research Organisation (DRDO) and produced by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) for Missile Systems and Bharat Electronics (BEL) for other radars, control centres in India.
Notably, the Army already has two regiments of the Akash missile system and is considering addition of another two for deployment at the Pakistan and China border, while Air Force is set to acquire seven squadrons of the missile system.
About Akash Missile System
Akash is a medium range surface-to-air missile (Akash SAM) defence system which can target enemy missiles and aircraft from a distance of 18 to 30 km at an altitude up to 18 km.
Akash employs an integrated ramjet-rocket propulsion system. Ramjet is an air-breathing jet engine that uses the forward movement of the missile to compress air without a separate compressor. Since ramjets cannot produce thrust at zero airspeed, Akash has an a rocket assist to accelerate it to a speed where it begins to produce thrust.
Akash flies at supersonic speed of around Mach 2.5, that is, 2.5 times the speed of sound and ramjets work most efficiently at supersonic speeds of close to Mach 3. The ramjet engine gives it thrust to intercept the target at supersonic speed without any speed deceleration, unlike Patriot missile of US, and the solid fuel system makes it more economic and accurate.
It can be fired from both static or mobile platforms, such as battle tanks, providing flexible deployment. The Air Force versions use a combination of tracked and wheeled vehicle.
Akash is a multitarget handling surface-to-air missile system. It can destroy manoeuvring targets such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), fighter aircraft, cruise missiles and missiles launched from helicopters.
Akash SAM can target and destroy different aerial targets simultaneously with a kill probability of 88 per cent for the first and 99 per cent for the second missile on a target.
The missile could play an important role in the light of the recent incidents of Pakistan dropping ammunition in Indian territory via Chinese drones.
Apart from an integral ramjet propulsion, the Akash SAM system consists of a switchable guidance antenna system, a command guidance unit, an onboard power supply, a system arming and detonation mechanism, digital autopilot, radars and C4I centres.
The high-power, multi-function Rajendra phased-array radar is the most important part of the the Akash SAM system battery. The battery has four launchers, with three missiles each, and four Rajendra radars, interlinked and controlled by the group control centre (GCC).
Each launcher is controlled by one radar that can track 16 targets. The Rajendra radar can, therefore, guide 12 missiles simultaneously while eyeing 64 targets.
The 3D passive electronically scanned array Rajendra radar (PESA) can electronically scan and guide the missile towards targets. The communication links, command and control nodes, sensors and self-propelled launchers of the entire Akash SAM system are IT-integrated.
The PESA antenna array is situated on a rotating platform with a swivel of 360 degrees. With this, the Rajendra radar can detect up till a radius of 80 km, engage a target up till 60 km at an altitude of 8 km. Overall, the Akash can intercept from a range of 30 km and provide air defence missile coverage of 2,000 km².
The guidance system of the missile is such that it enables it to work through electronic countermeasures. The Rajendra radar completely guides the Akash missile, which increases its efficacy against electronic jamming of aircraft.
The missile has a 60-kg payload capacity and it could use prefabricated tungsten alloy cubes warheads or even a nuclear warhead. The warhead of the Akash missile is coupled with a digital proximity fuse. A detonation mechanism is put in place to control the detonation sequence. The missile is also integrated with a self-destructive device.
The Akash missile system was tested along with all other air defence missiles, including Israeli ones, in the Indian Air Force (IAF) inventory during an exercise in Suryalanka (Andhra Pradesh) in 2018 and was adjudged as the best performer.