IAF orders another 750 Akash SAMs

Last Updated: Tue, Feb 02, 2010 10:20 hrs

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has ordered an additional 750 Akash medium-range surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) from state-run defence behemoth Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) at a cost of Rs.42.79 billion ($925 million), it was announced here Tuesday.

'A decision to place this fresh order with BEL was taken after the IAF expressed satisfaction with the performance of the Akash missiles that are deployed in two squadrons,' Defence Minister A.K. Antony said Tuesday.

The IAF will deploy 125 missiles each in six squadrons as and when BEL delivers them.

'The first order for 250 missiles was placed last year on a pilot basis. The IAF has decided to deploy the weapon in more squadrons for optimal use,' Antony said after inaugurating the digital flight control (DFC) computer facility at BEL here.

BEL chairman and managing director Ashwani Kumar Datt said that the first order was worth Rs.12.21 billion.

Designed and developed by the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Akash missile defence system is part of the country's integrated guided missile development programme.

'The missile can target an enemy aircraft up to 30 km away, at altitudes up to 18,000 meters and can be fired from both tracked and wheeled platforms,' Datt told reporters on the margins of the function.

The missile is capable of carrying conventional as well as nuclear warheads with a payload of 60 kg.

On the occasion, BEL also handed over to the defence minister an advanced gun fire control system for the Indian Navy.