Air Defense: Akash the Immortal

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February 4, 2006: India continues to develop its Akash anti-aircraft missile, recently having three successful test launches. Development has been going on for over twenty years. It's been 16 years since the first test launch, and two years since the project was last cancelled. Every few years, politicians and journalists get indignant about the slow, or non-existent, progress of the project. Yes, there is always enough progress, or a successful appeal to national pride, to keep the money coming, and block orders to cancel the project. Akash is basically an upgraded Russian SA-6 system. Each 1,543 pound missile has a 132 pound warhead, a range of 27 kilometers and can kit targets as high as 49,000 feet, or as low as 66 feet. India wants to built a version of Akash for use on ships, and is already looking into a longer range (60 kilometers) version. India has spent nearly $200 million developing Akash, so far. This work on indigenous missile designs, under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP), managed by the Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO), India's equivalent to DARPA. What apparently caused the most problems was software development. While India has a lot of local talent in this department, creating this kind of specialized military software is very difficult.

 


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