Development of Akash Mk 1 S and Akash NG Surface to Air Missiles
Multiple variants of the Akash Surface to Air Missile which is indigenous developed are under testing by the Defence Research Development Organisation
DRDO successfully test fired Akash Mk-1S missile from Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur, Odhisa on 25th and 27th May 2019. Akash Mk-1S is an upgrade of existing Akash missile with indigenous seeker. Akash Mk-1S is a surface-to -air missile, which can neutralize advanced aerial targets. The Akash weapon system has combination of both command guidance and active terminal seeker guidance. Seeker and guidance performance was consistently established in both the tests, which met all the mission objectives.
Akash is a surface to air anti-aircraft missile with a strike range of 25 km and warhead of 60 kilogram. Missile is guided by a phased array fire control radar called ‘Rajendra’ which is termed as Battery Level Radar (BLR) with a tracking range of about 60 km. Akash surface-to-air missile can intercept enemy aircraft and missiles from a distance of 18 to 30 km.
There was a demand from the forces for a missile with a seeker that can target the inbound missile more accurately.
DRDO offered Akash missile with an indigenous seeker named Akash-S1.
In addition the Akash Next Generation (NG) which is supposed to have a longer range and quicker reaction time is under testing.
The Indian Army while accepting the Akash for static roles had rejected the same for the fast response battle in the tactical battle area.
The reaction time of Akash is longer and has a radar coverage less than 360 degrees. QRSAMs are needed to defend formations in the forward tactical battlefield area whereas Akash is being used for guarding its assets located in deeper areas inside the country.
Akash is suited for static air defense where the response time may be longer, thus the same may not be suitable for employment in the tactical battle area given the need for quick reaction and speedy engagements. Moreover, it appears that the Army also wants a mobile AD system whereas the Akash may not be as agile and also has a larger footprint.
The DRDO is now hoping to persuade the Army with the Akash NG which would require a reaction time of 3-5 seconds and will have to be mounted on a high mobility platform.