Saturday, 26 March 2011

BDL inks Rs 14,000-cr deal with Army for Akash missiles

In what appears to be a strong step toward indigenous weapon system production Akash SAM's developed by DRDO has been accepted by IAF and the Indian Army.
Recently Army placed an order of 14,000-crore one of the biggest Defence production contracts with Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) for the production of Akash, the surface-to-air (SAM) missile.
This is in addition to the IAF contract of 1,000 crore BDL had signed earlier. This info was given by Chairman and Managing Director, Major Gen Ravi Ketarpal.
Chief Controller in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Dr Prahlada had said in an interview that the all-weather, multi-target missile was accepted by the IAF after nine successful field trials, including a ripple fire in the electronic clutter. Further tests were likely but more for practice and building user awareness and confidence.
The Akash missile has a range of 25 km with a low reaction time of 15 seconds. It can shoot down aircraft, helicopters and UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) travelling at speeds of up to 700 m/sec. The weapon system is capable of engaging targets in all weather conditions.
Developed by the DRDO as part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), the missile has been a priority for the armed forces, who plan to use it for the close defence of its installations from all types of aerial attacks.
The contract is the highest value placed by the Indian Army to date, the BDL release said.
BDL is gearing up to manufacture a series of missiles that have been or are being developed by the DRDO by setting up facilities in Andhra Pradesh and other States. It has been allocated land for expansion in two places in Andhra Pradesh.

BDL is the main manufacturer of the indigenously developed missiles. With the implementation of the contracts, it expects to turn into a Navaratna Defence PSU with a turnover projected at over Rs 5,000 crore by 2015. Currently, it is a mini-ratna.

Under the IGMDP, the DRDO has developed Agni, the long-range missile; Prithvi (different versions), a medium range missile; and is close to completing Nag, the anti-tank missile. Akash is the latest to complete all user trials and enter the production and induction phase

Akash missile launch

The Akash missile can be launched from static or mobile platforms, such as battle tanks, providing flexible deployment. The SAM can handle multitarget and destroy manoeuvring targets such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), fighter aircraft, cruise missiles and missiles launched from helicopters.
The Akash SAM system defends vulnerable areas in all weather conditions against medium-range air targets being attacked from low, medium and high altitudes.
It can operate autonomously, and engage and neutralise different aerial targets simultaneously. The kill probability of the Akash is 88% for the first and 99% for the second missile on a target. The Akash SAM is claimed to be more economical and accurate than the MIM-104 Patriot, operated by several nations including the US, due to its solid-fuel technology. The Akash can intercept from a range of 30km and provide air defence missile coverage of 2,000km².

SAM system features

The Akash SAM system consists of an integral ramjet propulsion, a switchable guidance antenna system, a command guidance unit, an onboard power supply, a system arming and detonation mechanism, digital autopilot, radars and C4I centres.
The most important element of the Akash SAM system battery is its high-power, multi-function Rajendra phased-array radar.
The 3D passive electronically scanned array Rajendra radar (PESA) can electronically scan and guide the missile towards targets. It provides information on the range, azimuth and height of a flying target.

Rajendra radars

The Akash battery has four Rajendra radars and four launchers interlinked together and controlled by the group control centre (GCC). Each launcher, equipped with three missiles, is controlled by one radar that can track 16 targets.

The Rajendra radar can therefore track 64 targets and simultaneously guide 12 Akash missiles. The PESA antenna array has a swivel of 360° on a rotating platform. The Rajendra radar can detect up to a radius of 80km and can engage at a range of 60km at an altitude of 8km. The communication links, command and control nodes, sensors and self-propelled launchers of the entire Akash SAM system are IT-integrated. The weapons system uses radar vehicles and T-72 tank chassis for launchers.

Akash missiles

The Akash missile has a launch weight of 720kg and measures 5.8m in length, 350mm diameter and 1,105mm wingspan. The missile can fly at a speed of up to Mach 2.5 and has a height ceiling of 18km. The 60kg payload can use prefabricated tungsten alloy cubes warheads or a nuclear warhead.

Detonation sequence

The prefragmented warhead of the Akash missile is coupled with a digital proximity fuse. The detonation sequence is controlled by safety arming and a detonation mechanism. The missile is also integrated with a self-destructive device. Unlike the Patriot missile, Akash uses a ramjet propulsion system which gives it thrust to intercept the target at supersonic speed without any speed deceleration.
The terminal guidance system of the missile enables its working through electronic countermeasures.
The Rajendra radar completely guides the Akash missile, which increases its efficacy against electronic jamming of aircraft.