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The recent successful test of the Akash-NG air defence missile system from DRDO has reignited the old debate surrounding its true range capabilities. While DRDO’s official brochure advertises a slant range of 30 km at an altitude of 30m to 14 km, some experts believe the Akash-NG packs a much stronger punch, potentially reaching 80 km.

Several factors contribute to this discrepancy in perceived range. The Akash-NG boasts larger rocket motors compared to the Barak-8, which has a proven range of 70 km. This upgrade, coupled with its predecessor Akash MkI’s 25 km range, raises eyebrows about the seemingly modest official range of 30 km.

Some experts, however, argue that focusing on sheer range might be misleading. They propose that the Akash-NG’s true strength lies in its ability to detect and intercept high-performance, low RCS (radar cross-section) supersonic targets at shorter distances (around 30 km). At longer ranges, its effectiveness against such agile and stealthy targets might diminish. This suggests that Akash-NG might be optimized for tackling low-speed, non-conventional platforms with high RCS, making it a potent weapon against Stealth fighters, drones, cruise missiles, and other aerial threats within its optimized range.

Regardless of the range debate, the Akash-NG possesses several impressive features. It can engage multiple targets (up to 10) simultaneously with 360-degree coverage, making it a versatile air defence system.

The Akash-NG’s true capabilities remain shrouded in some mystery. While the official range of 30 kilometers stands, the possibility of longer-range engagements against low-performance targets cannot be entirely dismissed. Further tests and operational deployment will provide more concrete evidence of its effectiveness. One thing is clear: the Akash-NG represents a significant step forward in India’s indigenous air defence technology, and its future performance will be closely watched by both allies and adversaries alike.

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