Indian Cabinet has recently approved the export of the indigenously-developed Akash missile system which is already inducted into Indian Armed Forces service.
The Cabinet approval will facilitate Indian manufactures to participate in Request for Information/Proposal (RFI/RFP) issued by various countries. Until now, Indian defence exports primarily included parts and components and the export of big platforms was minimal. This new initiative of the Cabinet would help the country to improve its defence products and make them globally competitive.
The export version of Akash will be different from system currently deployed with Indian Armed Forces. The missile was inducted in 2014 by the Indian Air Force (IAF) and in 2015 in Indian Army. After the induction, interest is shown in Akash missile by many friendly countries during international exhibitions including DefExpo and Aero India.
The Indian Ministry of Defence said in a recent statement that there is interest coming in other major platforms like coastal surveillance system, radars and air platforms besides Akash.
The statement added that the country has also created a committee comprising of Defence Minister, External Affairs Minister and National Security Advisor to provide faster approvals for export of such platforms. This committee would authorize subsequent exports of major indigenous platforms to various countries. The committee would also explore various available options including the Government-to-Government (G2G) route.
Government of India is seeking to focus on exporting high value defence platforms, to achieve target of USD5 billion of defence exports and improve strategic relations with friendly foreign countries.
Under the Atma Nirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) initiative, India is growing in its capabilities of manufacturing wide variety of defence platforms and missiles. Akash is country’s important missile with over 96 percent indigenization.
Akash Missile System
Akash is a medium-range mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) system developed by Indian state-owned defence development agency, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The missile systems are produced by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) while radars and control centers are manufactured by Bharat Electronics (BEL).
The missile has a 60 kg (130 lb) high-explosive, pre-fragmented warhead with a proximity fuse. The missile system can target aircraft up to 30 km away, at altitudes up to 18,000 m. It has the capability to “neutralise aerial targets like fighter jets, cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles”. The system provides air defence missile coverage for an area of 2,000 km².
An Akash battery comprises a single Rajendra 3D passive electronically scanned array (PESA) radar and four launchers with three missiles each, all of which are interlinked. Each battery can track up to 64 targets and attack up to 12 of them. The Akash system is fully mobile and capable of protecting a moving convoy of vehicles. The launch platform has been integrated with both wheeled and tracked vehicles.
The system is in operational service with the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force.