The Akash is a medium range surface-to-air missile, which is produced indigenously and has the capability to engage multiple targets from multiple directions. It can reach a staggering speed of Mach 2.5 and can detect low, medium, and high flying targets.
Akash is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, and can reach a maximum height of 18 kilometres. This makes it lethal for enemy fighter jets, drones, cruise missiles, etc. The missile can carry a warhead of 50- 60 kgs, while it has a launch weight of 720 kg. It has a wingspan of 1105mm, length of 5.8 m, and a diameter of 350 mm.
The missile development was part of India’s 30-year-old integrated guided-missile development programme (IGMDP) which also included other missiles like Nag, Agni, Trishul, Prithvi. Akash can be launched from mobile platforms, thus making it versatile in combat situations. The strike rate is impressive too, with a kill probability of 88 per cent for the first missile and 99 percent for the second one.
The heart of the matter
Akash is supported by ‘Rajendra’, an indigenously developed radar system, that has the capability to lock-on to multiple targets in group or autonomous mode. The Indian Akash missile system is reportedly cheaper than the American ‘Patriot’ missile system. Incidentally, Akash uses ramjet propulsion system which helps it intercept supersonic targets. The ramjet propulsion and its electronic couter-counter measure equipment also help it break any electronic jamming system.
Where is it made?
The missile system is designed and developed by DRDO. But Bharat Dynamics (BDL) manufacturer the missiles, while Bharat Electronics produces its hi-tech ‘Rajendra phased array radar’.
Akash missile system has seven components. It contains integral ramjet propulsion; a switchable guidance antenna system; a command guidance unit; an onboard power supply; a system arming and detonation mechanism; digital autopilot; multi-function Rajendra phased-array radar; 3D passive electronically scanned array Rajendra radar (PESA) and command centres.
The main system
Akash contains four Rajendra radars and four launchers are interlinked together and controlled by the group control centre. Each launcher, equipped with three missiles and one radar, can track 16 targets. So in total, the radar can track 64 targets and simultaneously launch 12 Akash missiles.