Amid India’s efforts to expand exports of indigenous military equipment, many countries, including the Philippines, Brazil and Egypt, have shown interest in purchasing the Akash air defense missile system.

According to Indian defense officials, there are also countries in the Middle East that have shown interest in the capabilities of the Akash weapon system and its recent capability demonstration in trials. India demonstrated the capability of the Akash missile system to engage four aerial targets simultaneously at a range of 30 kilometres during the Astrashakti exercise held by the Indian Air Force (IAF) on December 12. India became the first country to have such a capability using a single firing unit.

During the exercise, four targets came from the same direction in a close formation and split to attack defence assets from multiple directions simultaneously. The Akash firing Unit was deployed with Firing Level Radar (FLR), a Firing Control Center (FCC), two Akash Launchers. A total of four missiles were launched within a short span and the Radar acquired and guided all four missiles towards the respective targets. All four targets were successfully engaged at maximum range (around 30 km) simultaneously.

Akash has been deployed by the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army for the last decade. The system is considered a medium-range air defense system, developed on the basis of the technology of the 2K12 Kub (or SA-6) missile complex – dubbed the “Three Fingers of Death” of the Soviet Union.

The Akash air defense complex is famous for its maneuverability, the ability to intercept targets at different alltitudes. It can engage multiple aerial targets while operating in fully automatic mode. An Akash battery comprises a single Rajendra 3D passive electronically scanned array radar and four launchers with three missiles each, and a Command post, all of which are interlinked. Akash can also be deployed on many different types of chassis, the most popular being the 8×8 wheeled chassis for high maneuverability, in addition to the T-72 tank chassis, or an improved BMP armored vehicle chassis.

The Akash interceptor missile has a launch weight of 720 kg (1,590 lb), a diameter of 35 cm (14 in) and a length of 5.78 meters (228 in). The design of the missile is somewhat similar to that of the SA-6 with four long tube ramjet inlet ducts mounted mid-body between wings.

Like the Russian SA-6 Gainful (2K12 Kub), the Akash missile utilizes an integrated ramjet-rocket propulsion system, which, after initial rocket motor burnout, provides sustained thrust for the missile throughout its flight until interception. The use of a ramjet propulsion system enables sustained speeds without deceleration throughout its flight. The Missile has command guidance in its entire flight.

Akash has a maximum range of 30km and a maximum ceiling of 18km, a maximum speed of Mach 2.5. On the upgraded Akash Mk.2 and Akash NG versions, the range has been increased to 40km and 80km, respectively.

The eyes and ears of each Akash complex is a phased array fire control radar called ‘Rajendra’, operating in the G/H-Band (4-8 GHz) band, with a tracking range of 60 km. The tracking range has been expanded to 3 times when combined with the BSR radar and 3D-CAR radar, with a tracking range of 100 and 180km. This combination significantly improves the ability to deal with targets that are applied stealth and low flying technology. Akash’s fire-controlled computer system can simultaneously track 64 targets, and attack up to 12 of them.

It can be concluded that Akash is the Indian version of the Russian 2K12 Kub, with remarkable improvements, significantly improved interception of the complex. Akash deserves to be named one of the most dangerous modern medium-range air defense missile complexes today. A single Akash missile has an 88% probability of kill. Two missiles can be fired, five seconds apart, to raise the probability of Kill to 98.5%. The Akash system can be deployed by rail, road or air.

According to a report by the news agency ANI, the Government of India plans to increase arms exports to 5 billion USD. Cooperation in the defense industry will help strengthen India’s friendship with foreign partners. Currently, Vietnam, the Philippines, the United Arab Emirates and a number of other countries are believed to have shown interest in India’s air defense systems. It is reported that the export version of the anti-aircraft missile system will have some modifications compared to the version being deployed in the Indian armed forces, to match the requirements of the customers.

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