India to test NextGen Akash surface-to-air missile variant this year
BEL Chairman M V Gowtama while speaking to media has confirmed that with all final components in place, assembly of Akash NG (new generation) which is a brand new variant of surface-to-air missile (SAM) has started and the first prototype of the missile system will be ready for developmental trials before end of this year .
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.
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-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.