BEL-made Akash inducted into Indian Air Force

Gwalior , July 10: The Akash Missile System, for which Navratna Defence PSU Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) is the nodal agency and supplies major sub-systems, was inducted into the Indian Air Force at a ceremony held at Air Force Station, Gwalior, today (July 10, 2015).

The induction of Akash into the Indian Air Force was marked by the symbolic handing over of the ‘key’ of the weapon system by Mr S K Sharma, Chairman & Managing Director, BEL, to the Defence Minister, Mr Manohar Parrikar, who in turn handed over the key to Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, Chief of the Air Staff. Dr S Christopher, Director General, DRDO, was present.

The ceremony was also attended by senior dignitaries of the Ministry of Defence, Indian Air Force, DRDO and Defence PSUs.

Akash is a great success story of the ‘Make in India’ initiative and Bharat Electronics Limited is proud to be a part of it.

Barring a few electronic components, every bit of Akash has the ‘Made in India’ tag. Almost 92 per cent of the total cost of inputs is sourced within India. This is a very significant achievement. Akash is the first indigenously built missile air defence system in our country, which has been designed and developed by the DRDO. BEL is the lead integrator of the Akash Missile System for the Indian Air Force.

Akash is a role model for Public-Private Partnership. It is a massive, state-of-the-art missile system, which has been realised through professional project management spearheaded by BEL. While the Radars, Control Centres, Simulators, associated maintenance vehicles and the integrated software for the System are supplied by BEL, the missiles are from BDL, Squadron Control Centre from ECIL and the launchers are supplied by Tata Power SED and Land T.

BEL adopted concurrent engineering and production model with close co-operation of all the DRDO labs and other industry partners. This was a challenging task but BEL rose to the occasion and the order for the first two squadrons to Air Force stations Gwalior and Pune were delivered on time.

The System has been qualified after rigorous Quality Assurance checks and clearances by the Missile System Quality Assurance Agency (MSQAA). The Akash Missile System has been tested in extreme weather conditions at Pokhran during the prototype stage.

Further, it has undergone successful integration and extensive firing trials at Balasore. The Akash Missile System was tested for ECCM (Electronic Counter Counter Measure) features at the Gwalior Air Force Station with commendable results.

The IAF officers successfully tested Akash’s capability in several simulated war scenarios. The finale of the firing trials was the NBLA (Near Boundary Low Altitude). Akash is probably the first in the world to have achieved this feat in this class of missiles.

With the experience gained in manufacturing and integrating the Akash Missile System for the Indian Air Force, BEL has built the capability to cater for the future requirements of Surface to Air Missile (SAM) systems in the country.

A new Strategic Business Unit headed by a General Manager was set up at our Bangalore Complex to manufacture Missile Systems.

BEL is geared up for futuristic programmes like the Quick Response Surface to Air Missile (QRSAM) and Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM) and can execute them as turnkey projects. BEL has set up an outdoor test facility at its Bangalore factory covering an area of 30 acres for conducting radiation and communication checks.

BEL is in the process of setting up a huge missile manufacturing facility near Lepakshi in Andhra Pradesh with an investment of Rs.500 crores to undertake manufacture of all electronic sub-systems for SAM projects.

BEL already has in place state-of-the-art Quality Assurance facilities for the rigorous quality checks required for SAM systems. BEL can add any new feature required by the user within a short time.

Acquiring technology and building competency among its workforce has been the mantra in BEL. Towards furthering this, BEL has sponsored its engineers to undergo the MTech programme in Missile Technology at the Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT) to enhance their technical knowhow.

Akash and other SAM systems are highly software-driven. The BEL Software Technology Centre (BSTC) at Bangalore, which is CMMi level 5 certified, has been strengthened to design the complex software required for these SAM systems. BEL currently has over 300 dedicated software engineers working in BSTC.

Women scientists / engineers from DRDO and BEL matched their male counterparts in contributing to the Akash System. BEL is committed to promote long-term product and project support for the lifetime of the System through continuous technology upgrades.

Akash has been developed under the country’s prestigious Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme for the air defence requirements of the Indian Defence forces. BEL has taken up a key role in the project along with DRDO, from the prototype development stage itself.

The Akash Missile System is an indigenously developed supersonic, short-range surface-to-air missile system with the capability to engage a wide variety of aerial threats like aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles up to a maximum range of 25 km and up to an altitude of 20 km.

Initially, the Indian Air Force placed an order for 2 Squadrons of Akash on BEL. This was followed by orders for six more squadrons. The Akash system for the Indian Air Force has been configured on trailers. The System is capable of simultaneously engaging multiple targets in all weather conditions and providing comprehensive short range missile cover to the vulnerable assets. (ANI)