India's defence ministry has given the nod to purchase a locally-made short range surface-to-air missile to protect its airspace along the border with China and Pakistan. The ministry said that it had withdrawn the global tender to purchase a missile system from foreign countries.
“In recent development, Short Range Surface to Air Missile global case has been withdrawn and also awarded to Akash Prime,” India’s Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik said on Wednesday in parliament.
Akash Prime is an advanced version of the home grown Akash surface-to-air weapon system, designed and developed by India's Defence Research and Development Organisation.
An advanced version of the domestically made Akash will have upgraded “seeker technology, reduced footprint for weapon system elements, 360 degree engagement capabilities and high altitude/low temperature operation” and the same system will be deployed in the Himalayan region.
Akash has a 96 percent indigenous component and a range of 25 km. The missile, produced by Bharat Dynamics, uses a high explosive, pre-fragmented warhead that can engage multiple threats simultaneously. It has a large operational envelope, from a low altitude of 30 metres to a maximum of up to 20 km.
Previously, the Indian Army and Air Force had not shown much interest in the basic version of the missile system, and were believed to be seeking a system which would have a sensor to track and target incoming missiles more accurately.