Confident with the success of Akash-1 missile system DRDO is now moving full steam ahead with the development of the highly advanced Akash-NG i.e. Akash-Next Generation. In May 2018, L&T’s ‘milestone ceremony’ gave us a glimpse of new Akash missile.
Learning from its expertise in the development of Indo-Israeli MR-SAM and LR-SAM air defense system, dual pulse solid propulsion and indigenous Active radar seeker which, backed by an Aesa Radar will be a leap of generation of the Search and Track technology currently used by the Akash1 and Akash-1S Air Defence system.
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.
Another plus point is that Akash-NG will utilize a canister-based launch system. Since the new model appears to be considerably lighter and less bulky than its predecessor, a single launcher unit is expected to carry six hermetically sealed missile canisters. Canister-based launch system would provide much longer shelf life and reliability. It also reduces overall deployment time. Akash-1 missiles are also stored in sealed canisters but they have to be mounted on launcher rails without the canister, which makes reloading a time-consuming task.
Akash SAM requires to fire a salvo of two missiles to achieve SSKP of 98% but Akash-NG due to better SSKP over its previous generation missile and due to advancement in the seeker and onboard electronics will achieve higher SSKP which will negate the use of Salvo firing mode which will cut down the cost of each kill.
According to unconfirmed reports, 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. The use of AESA radar versus older PESA Rajendra radar allows for a much higher sensitivity and reliability. MFR combined with enhanced command and control system will improve overall processing and target handling capability which means that Akash-NG will have a faster reaction time and a higher level of protection against saturation attacks. It has increased the number and types of target Akash can engage. In addition to intercepting incoming PGMs, cruise missiles, and aircraft, the new SAM will also be able to destroy short-range rockets and ballistic missiles.
In networked air-defence environment, Akash-NG will work with Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS).
Akash-NG will bridge the gap between 25km Akash-1 / Akash-1S and 70 km MR-SAM and will be slotted in between this two Air Defence system to provide two-layer air defense protection to various high valued military and civilian installations against aerial targets like fighter jets, cruise missiles, and air-to-surface missiles” as well as ballistic missiles.
Akash-NG already has interest from several countries in the neighborhood and Vietnam and India have discussed export of the Akash-NG variant after Vietnam showed more interest in it then Akash1 variant in recent meets due to which India is yet to close a deal with Vietnam. India and Vietnam in the last few years explored the possible transfer of technology and local production of Akash1 variant, which could have become the first major export order for Indian air defense system which now will happen when Akash-NG is cleared for production.
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