Akash missile fails a routine test flight

BANGALORE, India, May 31 (UPI) -- India's defense industry experts are investigating the failure of the surface-to-air missile Akash to lift off during a test in which it was to hit a target in flight.

The medium-range Akash was launched from the Integrated Test Range at Balasore in Orissa state to hit a target pulled by a pilot-less Lakshya aircraft flying over the Bay of Bengal, a report by The Hindu newspaper said.


However, the missile failed to launch from its mobile land launcher and immediately tumbled onto the ground, the news Web site IBN Live said.

Five minutes after the first missile's failure, a second missile was launched and hit its target, IBN said.

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The flights of the Akash missiles were a routine post-induction test, The Hindu newspaper said, and more similar tests are planned for the missile that was developed for the army and air force by the government's Defense Research and Development Organization.

The Lakshya drone, which reportedly performed well, also is a DRDO development project that was first used in 1985 and is manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.

The recoverable drone is powered by a HAL PTAE-7 turbojet and has a crushable nosecone to absorb the impact of heavy landings that may occur during its two-stage parachute descent. It flies at just under 30,000 feet and has a maximum speed of around 530 miles per hour.

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Around 3,000 of the 18-foot Akash missiles have been built by Bharat Dynamics and Bharat Electronics since production began n 2009. The missile is guided by a phased-array fire control radar called Rajendra -- named after India's first president Rajendra Prasad.

Defense experts have compared the Akash missile system to the MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile manufactured by Raytheon in the United States. Similar to the MIM-104, the Akash can neutralize aerial targets, including unmanned aerial vehicles, fighter jets, cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles, the defense news Web site Defense Professionals said.

The development of Akash missile took place during 1990s under India's Integrated Guided Missile Development Program that ran from the early 1980s up to 2007 to set up a range of missile defense systems. The program was managed by the DRDO in conjunction with other Indian government labs and research centers.

Apart from the Akash, the program's systems include the short-range surface-to-surface Prithvi ballistic missile, intermediate range surface-to-surface Agni missile, short range low-level surface-to-air Trishul missile and the third-generation anti-tank Nag missile.

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