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Why in news?

  • The Army, which is inducting the indigenously developed Akash short-range surface-toair missile (SRSAM) system, will get an upgraded variant. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) gave its procedural approval to the variant.

About the missile:

  • Akash missiles are designed to be launched from static or mobile platforms such as battle tanks and wheeled trucks, providing flexible deployment.
  • It can handle multiple targets and destroy manoeuvring targets, including unmanned aerial vehicles, fighter aircraft, cruise missiles and missiles launched from helicopters. Deployment of Aakash significantly improves defence capabilities from incoming air attacks.
  • Akash missile system is an indigenously developed supersonic short-range surface-to-air missile system with the capability to engage a wide variety of aerial threats like aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles up to a maximum range of 25 km and up to an altitude of 20 km.
  • This approval is for the procurement of an upgraded version of Aakash missiles which are much sleeker and more accurate compared to previous versions already in operation.
  • Each Akash battery includes four 3D passive electronically scanned array (PESA) radars and four self-propelled launchers with three missiles each, all of which are interconnected. It also has battery level radar known as Rajendra, as well as a battery control centre. It can track and attack multiple targets concurrently.
  • The Akash SAM system was produced by Bharat Electronics (BEL). Bharat Dynamics (BDL) serves as nodal agency for Akash SAM production for the army.
  • 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.
  • The tracking and missile guidance radar configuration consists of a slew able phased array antenna of more than 4000 elements, spectrally pure TWT transmitter, two stage super heterodyne correlation receiver for three channels, high speed digital signal processor, real time management computer and a powerful radar data processor.
  • The Akash is powered by Ramjet-rocket propulsion system which renders thrust for the missile to intercept the target at supersonic speed without any retardation.
  • The engine is ‘on’ throughout the flight. The thrust is on till the missile intercepts the target. Most other surface-to-air missiles, including the U.S. Patriot and the Russian S-300 series, use solid-fuel rocket propulsion.
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