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Akash Surface-to-Air Missile System

India has successfully test-fired its indigenously-developed surface-to-air missile, Akash, from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, Orissa, India.

The exercise took place on Thursday 24 May, 2012.

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) spokesperson, Ravi Gupta, said the user-specific trial, conducted as part of the nation’s routine air defence exercises, was successful.

"To re-validate the technology and operational efficacy of the missile, defence forces conducted the user trial with logistic support provided by the ITR," said Gupta.

The missile intercepted its target, a pilotless target aircraft, which was launched just minutes prior to its test firing, at a pre-determined altitude over the Bay of Bengal.

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The launch date was originally set for 20 May, but was postponed to allow for further preparations.

The 5.78m-long Akash is a medium-range anti-aircraft missile, developed by DRDO and Bharat Electronics Limited as part of the integrated guided missile development programme, which aims to provide multi-directional and multi-target area defence capabilities.

Capable of carrying both conventional as well as nuclear warheads up to 60kg, the missile can intercept a target, located at a distance of 25km to 30km away, and can simultaneously track and attack several targets by using Rajendra, a DRDO-developed multi-target and multi-function phased array fire control radar.

Compared with the US Army’s MIM-104 Patriot missile system, the missile features a launcher, control centre, multi-function fire control radar and supporting ground equipment, 2.5 Mach speed and 720kg launch weight.

Akash is also capable of destroying manoeuvring targets, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, fighter aircraft, cruise missiles, as well as ballistic missiles launched from helicopters.

The missile, which first entered into service with the Indian Army in 2008, was originally rejected because of technical issues, but was re-inducted by the Indian Air Force on 3 March 2012.