New Delhi: Having been satisfied with the consistent and reliable performance of the indigenous Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) Akash, Indian Air Force (IAF) has placed orders for seven more squadrons which is by far the highest order placed by the service for this missile system.
The missile system which has been designed and developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and produced and commissioned by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has been performing well in integrated Air Defence (AD) exercises conducted from time to time by IAF.
The number of missiles fired in Ex-Vayu Shakti 2019 or Crossbow-18, the Akash missile system had successfully intercepted and destroyed unmanned aerial targets.
In Ex Crossbow-18 the indigenous Akash missile system was fielded along with imported SAM weapon system under integrated air defence operations and it surpassed all expectations. The made in India Akash weapon system has proved its performance capability and reliability which has been successfully demonstrated by the IAF.
There were some teething problems related to extensive field usage faced by squadrons based in the North East and after several rounds of meetings between the user, DRDO, the defence PSUs BDL and BEL and other agencies involved, a mechanism has been evolved to carry out the maintenance together. However, due to the inclement weather in North East, there have been delays in carrying out the repairs.
On the serviceability and maintainability of the system, a former IAF officer explained: “The BDL/BEL are defence PSUs and are responsible for the maintainability of the system. There is no design issue with the system which has been designed and developed by DRDO.” “A proper ecosystem has been evolved between the user–IAF, DRDO, BEL/BDL from development to commissioning,” the officer said.
In case of any faults, proper investigations are carried out by DRDO and issues resolved with the joint efforts of the user IAF, BEL/BDL, and other agencies which also included design change.
Sources said prototypes were made and tested in one equipment and after successful testing and clearance by Quality Assurance (QA), produced in the required quantity and retrofitted in equipment in unit locations. The missile system comes with combat ground systems which are directly responsible for engaging the threat and supporting ground systems to facilitate the readiness of the combat systems.
Dismissing reports in a section of the media about the systems which are supporting ground system, sources said that “maintenance is not carried out by DRDO but the Defence PSUs. However, design solutions towards the main combat systems are given high priority and addressing the issues related to the other supporting ground system was taken simultaneously.”