Buoyed by the success of Akash Surface to Air Missile (SAM), the DRDO is said to be working one the development of the highly advanced Akash-NG or Akash-Next Generation.
In June 2018, it was reported that the next-generation Akash-NG missile will be ready for user trials in the next two years. Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) Chairman and Managing Director S K Sharma had then said that the upgraded version will have a new radar and seeker.
Akash missiles are designed to be launched from static or mobile platforms such as battle tanks and wheeled trucks, providing flexible deployment. It can handle multiple targets and destroy manoeuvring targets, including unmanned aerial vehicles, fighter aircraft, cruise missiles and missiles launched from helicopters. Deployment of Aakash significantly improves defence capabilities from incoming air attacks.
Akash missile system is an indigenously developed supersonic short-range surface-to-air missile system with the capability to engage a wide variety of aerial threats like aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles up to a maximum range of 25-30 km and up to an altitude of 20 km. It is in operational service with the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force.
According to a report published in Maxima Vigilantie, the Akash-NG missile has a cylindrical body with four cropped delta fins at mid-body and four tail fins. Second stage air-breathing solid ramjet engine has been ditched in favor of lighter dual-pulse solid rocket motor. The new propulsion system will increase the range of the missile to 50km+. Akash-NG has six major components- radome, indigenous active RF seeker, RF/Laser proximity fuse, pre-fragmented warhead, electromechanical actuation, and dual-pulse rocket motor.
The Akash missile, which is in service now, is guided by a phased array fire control radar called ‘Rajendra’ which is termed as Battery Level Radar (BLR) with a tracking range of about 60 km.
Akash-NG will feature an AESA Multi-Function Radar(MFR). The Addition of MFR will afford the Akash missile system capabilities it never had before. MFR will combine functions (search, track and fire control) of three different radars in one single unit.
This new Akash NG will significantly bolster India’s air defence system. India is currently working on a multi layered air defence system to tackle with the incoming aerial attack. India’s purchase of S-400 triumf system from Russia was in line with this ongoing endeavour. India is already working on two-tier Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) Program and has Aakash Missiles to take on aerial attacks. The S-400 Triumph missile defense system is a significant strategic upgrade in India’s military hardware.
Defence and strategic matters expert Major General PK Sehgal earlier told OneIndia that India’s air defence capabilities badly needed an upgrade.
“We did not have anything (in terms of air defence) between 400 kms and 25 kms. This is a system which can take on the enemy from 30 kms to 400m kms. Then you are also buying Israeli Barack 8 systems which has a range of 70 kms extendable upto 100 kms. So, you will have a layered air defence to take take on threats from China and Pakistan,” Major General PK Sehgal had said.
The new Akash NG will add another layer to this new multi-layered system on which India is working. Among other features, Akash-NG will have a faster reaction time and a higher level of protection against saturation attacks.