Akash missile

Akash missile

Infobox Weapon

caption=An Akash missile being test fired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur, Orissa. The launch platform is a BMP-2 vehicle
origin= IND
type=Surface to Air Missile
engine=Booster + Integral Ram Rocket (IRR) solid propulsion
weight=720 kg
length=5.78 mSharma, Ravi, [http://www.hindu.com/2008/04/13/stories/2008041359371000.htm Air Force to place order for Akash missile system] . "The Hindu", 13 April 2008. Accessed 19 April 2008]
diameter=0.35 m
speed=Mach 2.8 to 3.5
vehicle_range=25 to 30 km
ceiling=15 km
filling=55 kg Fragmentation warhead
guidance=Command Guidance
detonation=Radio proximity fuze
launch_platform=BMP-1, T-72, Tatra chassis
Indian missiles

Akash (Sanskrit: आकाश, Ākāś "Sky") is India's medium range surface-to-air missile defense system developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Bharat Electronics Ltd(BEL) as part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program. [http://www.akashsam.com/akashmissile.htm AkashSAM.com] ] [cite book |first=Journal of Electronic Defense Staff |title= International Electronic Countermeasures Handbook |publisher= Artech House |year= 2004 |isbn=1-5805-3898-3|pages=115|chapter=Guided Threat Systems] The missile can target aircraft up to 25 km away, at altitudes up to 15,000 m. Akash can be fired from both tracked and wheeled platforms.

Along with India, a limited number of other countries including the US, Russia, Japan, Israel, and some EU countries have developed operational multitarget-handling surface-to-air missile systems. With the successful user trials of Akash, India has validated the technology and operational efficacy of this missile system. This system is claimed to be more accurate than the similar MIM-104 Patriot from USA, based on statements from a Dr.Prahlada of the Indian Defense Research & Development Organization. For further informations read the interview with Dr. Prahlada which is sited under links.

In May 2008 Indian scientists announced they had developed a patented path-breaking technology will increase the range of missiles and satellite launch vehicles by at least 40%. [http://www.domainb.com/aero/space/launch_veh/20080514_technology.html] The enhanced range is made possible by adding a special-purpose coating of chromium based material to the blunt nose cone of missiles and launch vehicles. The material acts as a reactive-ablative coating that forms a thin low density gaseous layer over the tip of the rocket or missiles as they approach hypersonic speeds; this super-heated gas layer reduces drag by 47%, thereby allowing range enhancements at least 40%. [http://www.domainb.com/aero/mil_avi/miss_muni/20080910_Indian_technology.html]

Development and history

The first test flight of Akash missile was conducted in 1990, with development flights up to March 1997.

Two Akash missiles intercepted two fast moving targets in simultaneous engagement mode in 2005. 3-D Central Acquisition Radar (3D-CAR) group mode performance is also fully established. [ [http://frontierindia.net/iaf-initiates-process-for-inducting-akash-and-trishul-sams/ IAF initiates process for inducting Akash and Trishul SAM’s] ] [ [http://www.india-defence.com/reports-3629 Air Force Impressed With Akash Surface To Air Missiles Performance] ] The Akash Project has been the most expensive and missile project ever undertaken by the Union government of India in the 20th century. Total development costs for the missile and associated radars and systems was almost $120 million to the taxpayers. [ [http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/feb/27trishul.htm Akash costs over $100m to the exchequer] ]



Akash is a surface-to-air missile with an intercept range of 30 km. It has a launch weight of 720 kg, a diameter of 35 cm and a length of 5.78 metres. Akash flies at supersonic speed, reaching around Mach 2.5. It can reach an altitude of 18 km. An on-board guidance system coupled with actuator system makes the missile maneuverable 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. It is propelled by Integrated Ramjet Rocket Engine. The use of ramjet propulsion system that enables sustained speeds without deceleration throughout its flight. [ [http://www.hindu.com/2005/12/11/stories/2005121102871000.htm The Hindu] article "dated" 11 December 2005, "accessed" 18 October 2006.] The Missile as command guidance in its entire flight. [http://www.drdo.org/bnews/jan08/akash_test.htm AKASH AIR DEFENCE WEAPON SYSTEM] ]

The design of the missile is somewhat similar to that of SA-6 with four long tube ramjet inlet ducts mounted mid-body between wings. For pitch/yaw control four clipped triangular moving wings are mounted on mid-body. For roll control four inline clipped delta fins with ailerons are mounted before the tail. However, the internal schema shows a different layout with an onboard digitial computer, no Semi-active seeker, different propellant, different actuators and command guidance datalinks. The Akash carries an onboard radio-proximity fuse.


Each Akash battery consists of 4 self propelled Launchers (3 Akash SAMs each), a Battery Level Radar - the Rajendra, and a Command post (Battery Control Center). 2 batteries are deployed as a Squadron (Air Force), while up to 4 form an Akash Group (Army configuration). In both configurations, an extra Group Control Center (GCC) is added, which acts as the Command and Control HQ of the Squadron or Group. Based on a single mobile platform, GCC establishes links with Battery Control Centers and conducts air defense operations in coordination with air defense set up in a zone of operations.

For early warning, the GCC relies on the Central Acquisition Radar. However, individual batteries can also be deployed with the cheaper, 2-D BSR (Battery Surveillance Radar) with a range of over 100 km.

Each Akash battery can engage up to 4 targets. Each battery has 4 launchers with 3 missiles each, with each Rajendra able to guide 4 missiles in total, with a maximum of 2 missiles per target. Up to a maximum of 4 targets can be engaged by a typical battery with a single Rajendra if one missile is allotted per target.

Communications between the various vehicles are a combination of wireless and wired links. The entire system is designed to be set up quickly and to be highly mobile, for high survivability.

The Akash system can be deployed by rail, road or air.


The 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. [ [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/india/akash.htm Global Security.Org] article "accessed" 18 October 2006.] . It can track 64 targets in range, azimuth and height and guide eight missiles simultaneously towards 4 targets. The Rajendra derivative on a BMP-2 chassis and to be used by the Indian Air Force is known as the Battery Level Radar -II whereas that for the Army, is based on a T-72 chassis and is known as the Battery Level Radar-III.

A single Akash missile has an 88% Probability of kill. Two missiles can be fired, five seconds apart, to raise the Probability of Kill to 99%.

Long range target acquisition is performed by the 3D Central Acquisition Radar (3D CAR), which is a long range surveillance radar that can track 150 targets in Track while Scan mode at a range of 180 km. [ [http://www.acig.org/artman/publish/article_227.shtml ACIG Special Reports] ]


The Army's radar and launchers are based on the T-72 chassis to accompany the Army's fast moving armoured formations. The Air Force versions use a combination of tracked and wheeled vehicle. The Air Force Akash launcher consists of a detachable trailer which is towed by an Ashok Leyland truck, and which can be positioned autonomously. Both the Army and Air Force launchers have three ready-to-fire Akash missiles each. The launchers can slew in both elevation and azimuth.


Akash uses solid fuel. No country, except Russia, has mastered solid fuel technology in tactical missiles. Not even the US. That way, DRDO scientists consider Akash superior to the US Patriot. Unlike Patriot, Akash does not coast while it approaches the target, and thus has a higher kill probability. Liquid-fuelled missiles like Patriot would have burnt up all the fuel before they reach the target. In solid-fuel systems, the fuel is rationed so that the velocity is maintained throughout the flight. "Because this missile has an integrated ram-rocket, manoeuvrability is highest. The engine is 'on' throughout the flight. The thrust is on till the missile intercepts the target," explained Prahlada.


DRDO has completed the development of the Akash SAM System. The Indian Air force was satisfied with the performance of Akash after extensive flight trials and has decided to induct the weapon system. Orders for two squadrons have been placed. This is the first order of an indigenous tactical missile by the Indian Armed Forces.

More orders are expected, as the IAF phases out its Pechoras and as the Indo-Israeli JV to develop a MRSAM for the IAF has been put on hold, while a similar program for the Indian Navy proceeds unimpeded. [http://news.indiainfo.com/2008/05/06/0805061039_indo-israel_missile_deal_on_hold.html Barak-MRSAM for IAF put on hold] ]

In December 2007, the Indian Air Force completed user trials for this missile. The trials, which were spread over ten days were declared successful after the missile hit the target on five occasions. Multiple targets handling capability of Akash weapon system was demonstrated by live firing in C4I environment. Before the ten day trial at chandipur, ECCM Evaluation tests were carried out at Gwalior Air force base and mobility trials were carried out in Pokhran. The IAF had evolved the user Trial Directive to verify the Akash's consistency. The following trials were conducted: Against low flying near range target, long range high altitude target, crossing and approaching target and ripple firing of two missiles from the same launcher against a low altitude receding target. [ [http://www.drdo.com/bnews/jan08/akash_test.htm DRDO report on Akash] ] Following this, Indian Air Force announced that it would initiate induction of 2 squadrons of Akash. Some reports state that a Squadron has 18 batteries. This is incorrect, as shown by IAF Orbats and Pictures of the Akash squadron configuration. A squadron has a standard of 2 batterys with each battery capable of engaging 4 targets simultaneously, and hence the IAF order adds up to some 100 missiles (with reloads) [ [http://in.news.yahoo.com/indiaabroad/20080511/r_t_ians_nl_general/tnl-iaf-inducts-the-akash-missile-b9e311f.html IAF inducts the Akash missile] ] . More orders are expected as the Air Force moves to replace its retiring SA-3 Pechora systems. cite web
url = http://sify.com/news/fullstory.php?id=14580887
title = IAF to induct indigenous Akash missile
accessmonthday = December 27
accessyear = 2007
date = 2007-12-26, 00:17 AM
work = Sify News
publisher = Sify News
] [ [http://www.business-standard.com/common/news_article.php?leftnm=lmnu2&subLeft=1&autono=311447&tab=r Missile mission meets target ] ] It is reported that Malaysia has shown interest in purchasing Akash missile system [ [http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/India_Russia_yet_to_reach_breakthrough_on_Gorshkov/articleshow/2686282.cms India, Russia yet to reach breakthrough on Gorshkov-India-The Times of India ] ] . However, exports to Malaysia of this state of the art system are not likely due to the risk of this missile systems technology being leaked to Pakistan as a result of Malaysia's Badawi regime's pan-Islamist leanings. [http://www.iiss.org/publications/strategic-comments/past-issues/volume-14-2008/volume-14-issue-3/malaysias-new-politics/]

Each missile is expected to have starting costs below $500,000 (US currency), i.e. under Rs.20 million [http://www.drdo.org/dpi/prahlada_interview.html] , which is less than half the cost of similar Western missiles which usually cost between USD 1.2-1.5 million (Indian currency Rs. 50-60 million) each .. It is expected that this cost will further decrease due to the economies of scaled achieved as production ramps up. [http://www.drdo.org/dpi/prahlada_interview.html]


External links

* [http://www.akashsam.com Official website]
* [http://www.drdo.org/dpi/prahlada_interview.html Interview with Dr. Prahlada from DRDO]

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