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BEL receives order for Akash Prime weapons

Akash Prime – seen here on its flight test in September 2021 – has a maximum firing range of 30 km and can hit targets at a maximum elevation of 18 km. (Ministry of Defence, India)

India's Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has received an order worth INR39.14 billion (USD477 million) from missile manufacturer Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) to supply two improved Akash weapon systems for the Indian Army, BEL announced on 20 June.

According to BEL, the improved Akash system – also known as Akash Prime – comprises an “indigenously developed” active radio frequency seeker and 360° engagement capability.It also consists of a long-range surveillance radar, a target and missile tracking radar, a troop control centre, and launchers.

The Akash Prime is a short-range surface-to-air missile (SRSAM) air-defence system designed and developed by India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

On producing the Akash Prime, the DRDO is partnered with BDL, which is responsible for producing the missiles, while BEL produces the system's radars, control centres, simulators, associated vehicles, and software.

A DRDO official told Janes that the Akash Prime can engage with multiple threats at a higher altitude compared with the baseline Akash. The maximum firing range and altitude of the improved system are 30 and 18 km, respectively, the official added.

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed a contract worth INR81.6 billion with BDL in late March to procure two Akash Prime weapon systems for the 3rd and 4th regiments of the Indian Army's Corps of Army Air Defence (AAD).

The AAD raised the first two Akash regiments between 2008 and 2010. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the procurement of two Akash Prime systems in 2018.

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