BEL Chairman M V Gowtama confirmed that the first trials of the upgraded version of surface-to-air missile (SAM) Akash NG (new generation) will be held this year.

“Akash SAM is the best in the business and it has performed so well during all the recent exercises. The Akash NG will be ready for trials this year,” Gowtama said.

In June 2018, it was reported that the next-generation Akash-NG missile will be ready for user trials in the next two years. Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) Chairman and Managing Director S K Sharma had then said that the upgraded version will have a new radar and seeker.

According to a report published in Maxima Vigilantie, the Akash-NG missile has a cylindrical body with four cropped delta fins at mid-body and four tail fins. Second stage air-breathing solid ramjet engine has been ditched in favor of lighter dual-pulse solid rocket motor. The new propulsion system will increase the range of the missile to 50+ km. Akash-NG has six major components- radome, indigenous active RF seeker, RF/Laser proximity fuse, pre-fragmented warhead, Electro-Mechanical actuation, and dual-pulse rocket motor.

Akash-NG will feature an AESA Multi-Function Radar (MFR). The Addition of MFR will afford the Akash missile system capabilities it never had before. MFR will combine functions (search, track and fire control) of three different radars in one single unit reports OneIndia.

This new Akash NG will significantly bolster India's air defence system. India is currently working on a multi layered air defence system to tackle with the incoming aerial attack. India's purchase of S-400 triumf system from Russia was in line with this ongoing endeavour. India is already working on two-tier Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) Program and has Akash Missiles to take on aerial attacks. The S-400 Triumph missile defence system is a significant strategic upgrade in India's military hardware.

Akash NG is likely to have a range around 50 km, while its predecessors can hit targets up to 25 km. DRDO had tested-fired Akash-1S, a new variant of the missile recently, with a Desi seeker on-board. (With reporting by OneIndia & ManoramaOnline)