Indian Akash missile fails to target Italian PTA Mirach
Hemant Kumar Rout| ENS - BALASORE
06th June 2012 10:42 AM
After twin successes on June 1, surface-to-air anti-aircraft missile Akash again failed to deliver desired results during a user trial by the Indian Air Force from a defence base off the Odisha coast on Wednesday. The IAF for the first time had used an Italian unmanned aircraft as a target of the missile.
Defence sources said it was the missile’s third failure in the six-test series. Earlier on May 28 and May 30, the missile had failed to take off from the launch pad at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-sea.
The missile in its full operational configuration was launched from the launching complex-III of the ITR at about 7.57 am. Prior to the launching of the missile an Italian Pilot-less Target Aircraft (PTA) Mirach was flown from the launching complex-II.
“The missile was to destroy the Mirach PTA at an altitude of 2000 meter as per the mission coordination. But the mission failed as the weapon could not destroy the target. Though the missile attained the desired altitude but failed to reach the distance,” said a scientist associated with the Akash project.
The armed forces, which were to pack up after the test, are however scheduled to carry out the same kind of test once again on Thursday. “They have to make it a success. The defence scientists are working to fix the problem and hopefully the missile will be ready for the test.The DRDO is providing all logistic supports to the IAF for the user trials,” the scientist said.
Wednesday's test-fire came after similar trials conducted from the same test range on May 24, 26, 28 and June 1. The tests were to gauge the flight consistency and effectiveness of the missile. During the trials a floating object suspended from PTA Lakshya was used as target of the missile.
On June 1, two Akash missiles were test fired successfully in quick succession. While on May 28 the missile fell on ground after taking off from the launcher, on May 30 it did not take off due to lack of required command from the launcher even though the target Lakshya was already flown for the mission.
As reported by ‘The New Indian Express’ earlier the Akash system has a problem with its radar since long for which the army had been denying it for years to induct in its forces. A defence expert asked if a weapon behaves like this during deployment stage, how can the user repose faith on it? However, no official from the DRDO and armed forces were available for comment.
Akash is a medium-range surface-to-air missile and it can reach targets 25 km away. The 5.8-metre-long sleek missile has a launch weight of 720 kg and can carry a warhead of 50 kg. The missile is crucial to India's air defence programme as it will be used to counter ballistic and cruise missiles, enemy aircrafts and air-to-surface missiles.
It can handle multiple targets with the help of a digitally coded command and guidance system. It is fuelled by solid propellants. The Akash missile system which is similar to the American Patriot air-to-surface missile system can track 64 targets simultaneously through the inbuilt Rajendra radar and fire 12 missiles at a time.
Though the development of Akash missile took place during 1990s under the country’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) and after many trials, it was inducted into the armed forces after nearly two decades. While its land variant was inducted in the army in 2008, the air force version of the missile was handed over to the IAF this year on March 3.
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