Misfortune struck the Akash missile project once again during a user specific trial from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) off the Odisha coast on Monday. The missile reportedly fell down immediately after taking off from the road mobile launcher causing embarrassment for the DRDO. It was the missile’s third trial of the six-trial series.
Sources said the Indian Armed forces had planned twin trials of the missile back-to-back within a gap of one minute to gauge its effectiveness and killing efficiency. As claimed by the DRDO, the Akash missile system has a passive phased array radar called Rajendra which is capable of tracking as many as 64 targets and controlling up to 12 missiles simultaneously.
A reliable source from the test range told ‘The New Indian Express’ that though two missiles were lined up for tests, the first one fell down on the ground after it was blasted off from the launcher. The second one fired five minutes later was termed by the DRDO officials as successful.
“The first missile fell down due to technical snags in the system. The launcher did not get required command in time to fire the missile, for which heat generation to have initial thrust was not enough to push the missile upward. Scientists are looking for a possible solution to the faults and hope it could be sorted out before the next trial,” the source said.
Both the missiles were test fired by the Indian armed forces at about 11.02 am and 11.07 am from the specially made launch pad near launching complex-III of the ITR at Chandipur-on-sea. The missiles had to target the toe bodies suspended from the pilot-less target aircraft (PTA). Earlier two Akash missiles were successfully tested from the same test range on May 24 and May 26.
The authorities of the ITR however claimed, of the two, one was developmental trial and another was user trial. ITR director MVKV Prasad said one was successful while the data, retrieved from telemetry stations and radars, of the other trial were being analysed.
He however refused to give the details about the failure of the missile and even tried to evade queries on whether the missiles were fired from same launcher. No official from the armed forces too came forward to comment on the failure or success of the trials.
Even as the DRDO claims that the Akash is the only system of its kind available globally and several countries have evinced interest to procure the anti-aircraft weapon, a scientist associated with this project said the system has a problem with its radar for which the army had been denying it for years to induct in its forces.
Though the development of Akash missile took place during 1990s under the country’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) and after many trials, it was inducted into the armed forces after nearly two decades. While its land variant was inducted in the army in 2008, the air force version of the missile was handed over to the IAF this year on March 3.
The delay in induction of a missile itself indicates its capability and efficiency, said a defence expert besides adding that the missile has not been proved foolproof yet despite several rounds of developmental and user trials over the years.
The indigenously-developed missile has a range of 25 km to 30 km and an effective ceiling of 18 km. It is fuelled by solid propellants. The 5.8-metre-long sleek missile has a launch weight of 720 kg and can carry a warhead of 50 kg. As claimed by the DRDO it can used to counter ballistic and cruise missiles, enemy aircrafts and air-to-surface missiles.
-via IBN Live.