Indian Army on Tuesday has inducted indigenously developed supersonic short range surface-to-air missile ‘Akash’ capable of engaging aerial threats like aircraft, helicopters and drones to a maximum range of 25 km and up to an altitude of 20 km.
The missiles developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) will be a boost for the Army Air Defense Corps, which had been grappling for years with obsolete air defense weapons.
"The capability that we have with this system will ensure that it takes care of vulnerability of our assets. Akash is a step towards self-realization of indigenization," Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag said while presiding over the formal dedication ceremony here.
He added that the Army was in the process of reinventing the command and control and battlefield management system of the Army Air Defense.
The system, which has 96 per cent indigenization, is capable of simultaneously engaging multiple targets in all weather conditions and is capable of providing comprehensive short range missile cover to the vulnerable assets in the field force of the Army.
The Akash Weapon System, which will be deployed facing the western borders, employs command to line of sight guidance and relies on sophisticated radars and control systems to guide the missile to its targets.
The Army has initially ordered two Akash regiments, with six firing batteries.
The total cost of the order which includes hundreds of missiles is about $3 billion (19,500 crore), defense sources said.
They said that the first full regiment should be ready by June-July and the second one by end of 2016.
IAF has already inducted its own version of the missile system.
"The Army version is movable and is mounted on vehicles unlike that of the IAF. This means that it can be moved quickly based on operational needs," G Chandramouli, Project Director of Akash, told PTI.
Akash is one of the five core missile systems of the integrated guided missile development program, launched by DRDO in 1984.