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Akash test-fired successfully

By T.S. Subramanian

CHENNAI, FEB. 21 . Akash, India's surface-to-air missile, was test-fired from a mobile launcher at the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur-on-sea, near Balasore, Orissa on Monday. It showed consistency in full flight, its 39 th, travelled its entire range of 25 km and hit the pilotless target aircraft "Lakshya."

Prahlada, Director, Defence Research and Development Laboratory, Hyderabad (the nodal agency which designed the Akash), said this was the third consecutive flight in which the missile showed total consistency.

The Army and the Air Force, who would be using Akash, wanted it to demonstrate consistency during the entire flight and travel to the far-boundary (full range), which it did.

Mr. Prahlada said: "It is a totally home-made missile. We can build the missile, upgrade it and maintain it. This is our pride."

The problems encountered in the earlier flight had been overcome. Akash weighs about 700 kg and its length is 5.6 metres. It can handle multiple targets with its command and guidance system. The Project Director of Akash is Dr. R.R. Panyam.

Informed sources said the missile had better features than its U.S. counterpart called the "Patriot." It was totally mobile — it can be launched from a battletank. It has thrust during the entire flight — the propulsion will work till it hits the target. The Patriot has thrust only for 12 seconds and then the coasting begins. But Akash has thrust for 35 seconds. Besides, it is lighter and more effective.

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