Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Akash (Sanskrit for Sky, sometimes spelt Aakash) is developed as part of India's Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) which was launched in 1983 to achieve self-sufficiency in defence. Akash is a mobile area defense medium-range medium and high altitude surface-to-air missile with a range of 27 to 30 kilometers. The missile has a height ceiling of 18,000 meters and is capable of detecting and destroying aircraft flying at tree top height. The missile has a solid rocket booster stage, followed by a Ramjet engine, and weighs about 700 kg, with a 60 kg warhead.
The missile system has been through several trials at the Interim Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur, Orissa, and had, until recently, only met with moderate success. In November 2004, however, trials conducted with a live warhead and active terminal radar navigation achieved repeatable performance against test targets.
The missile systemís fire control radar is a multi-target and multi-function phased array radar called 'Rajendra' with a range of about 60 km. It makes use of a passive phased array to search a volume of space, distinguish between hostile and friendly targets, automatically track up to 64 targets and command one of several launchers to engage up to 4 targets simultaneously. Initially designed as a standalone system, Rajendra is now equipped with the ability to integrate with a network of sensors, including long- and medium-range surveillance radars of foreign and indiginous origin. The Rajendra Multi-Function Phased Array radar system, designed at the Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE, a part of DRDO), is currently in production at BEL (Bharat Electronics Limited ).
Incidentally, it was during the tests at Chandipur that engineers noticed the Rajendra radar was able to detect and track artillery shells being test fired at a nearby range. This led to the (ongoing) development of the indigenous Weapon Locating Radar , an item highly prized by the Indian Army's artillery units, especially after the Kargil War.
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