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India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has announced a critical milestone in its air defence capabilities with the successful completion of developmental trials for the New Generation Akash (Akash-NG) missile system. This successor to the existing Akash system promises improved performance and versatility, further bolstering India’s air defence against aerial threats.

First tested in 1990, the Akash missile system has served as a mainstay in India’s air defence arsenal for over two decades. However, technological advancements necessitated an upgrade. The Akash-NG sheds weight, replacing the older Ramjet propulsion with a more efficient Dual Pulse Rocket motor. This not only reduces its weight from 720kg to 350kg but also enhances its manoeuvrability and agility.

The Akash-NG boasts several improvements:

  • Increased Altitude: It can now reach an altitude of 25 km, a significant improvement over the current Akash’s 20 km ceiling.
  • Extended Range: Its operational range extends to 30-50 km, exceeding the existing system’s 25 km range.
  • Enhanced Versatility: The new propulsion system and lighter weight enhance its ability to engage diverse aerial targets.

Having cleared developmental hurdles, the Akash-NG is now poised for user trials with the Indian Army and Air Force. These trials will involve real-world deployment scenarios, rigorously testing the system’s capabilities and validating its operational effectiveness.

DRDO, along with its manufacturing partner, has already produced nearly 3500 Akash missiles for India and Armenia. However, production will gradually shift to the Akash-NG within the next three years, subject to the success of user trials and subsequent orders.

The Akash-NG represents a critical step forward in India’s indigenous air defence technology development. Its deployment will strengthen the country’s ability to neutralize a wider range of aerial threats, ensuring the safety of critical infrastructure and personnel. The Akash-NG is not just a new missile system; it signifies India’s commitment to self-reliance in strategic defence technologies.

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