The Indian federal government has approved the procurement of six additional squadrons of the Akash surface-to-air (SAM) missile system for the Indian Air Force (IAF) for INR55 billion (USD767.7 million).
Senior Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials said on 5 September that the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had sanctioned in late August the acquisition of more units of the indigenously developed system, with a contract for 550-600 Akash missiles expected to be signed "imminently" with state-owned company Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).
BDL is the principal integrator of the 5.8-m long Akash missile, which is fitted with a 55-60 kg high-explosive pre-fragmented warhead and is stated to be capable of engaging multiple aerial targets such as combat aircraft and assorted missile systems up to a 25-30 km range.
The system's locally designed electronics and Rajendra 3D phased array multifunctional fire-control radar are produced by public-sector company Bharat Electronics Limited, while private manufacturers Larsen & Toubro and Tata Power SED provide its tracked and wheeled launchers.
Military sources said that at least some of the new missiles will be fitted with a new, indigenously designed radio-frequency seeker that was successfully tested in December 2017 in an effort to improve accuracy.
The new Akash systems will supplement two Akash squadrons that were formally inducted into the IAF in July 2015 to replace the ageing Soviet-era S-125M Pechora-M (SA-3B Goa), 9K33 Osa (SA-8 Gecko), and 9K38 Igla (SA-18 Grouse) air-defence systems.
While these two squadrons are deployed almost entirely in static roles to provide security to IAF bases, the new Akash systems will be based along India's borders with Pakistan and China to counter aerial threats, military sources told Jane's .
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