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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Indian missiles far from being operational despite repeated tests

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, July 24,IRNA -- The Trishul "quick-reaction" surface-to- air missile was again tested on Sunday, but just like its sister Akash missile it is still far from being inducted into the armed forces.

The frequent time, cost, technical and operational slippages in the nine-km-range Trishul and 25-km-range Akash surface-to-air missile programs have meant that the country's air defence cover continues to have gaping holes.

Pakistan, in sharp contrast, has always accorded high priority to its air defence management, with its multi-tier surveillance cover, air defence fighters, quick-reaction, short-range missiles and an integrated control and reporting system.

The Indian Armed Forces, however, continues to make do with its obsolete air defence systems, said an Asian Age report here today.

The IAF, for instance, has aging Pechora, Igla-1M and OSA-AK missile systems, and that, too, in woefully inadequate numbers.

While Trishul was to replace its OSA-AK weapons system, Akash was meant as a substitute for Pechora.

But both the Trishul and Akash air defence missile systems, which are part of the original Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme launched as far back as 1983, have been dogged by development snags in their "command guidance and integrated Ramjet rocket propulsion" systems.

Trishul, for instance, has been tested over 80 times so far without coming anywhere near becoming operational. It was, in fact, virtually given up for dead in 2003 after around Rs 300 crore was spent on it, before being revived yet again.

Trishul's repeated failure, in fact, forced the Navy to go in for nine Israeli Barak anti-missile defence systems for its frontline warships, along with 200 Barak missiles, at a cost of Rs 1,510 crore during the 1999 Kargil conflict. The Navy is now inducting even more Barak systems due to Trishul's continued failure.

The Defence Research and Development Organization, for its part, contends the seven Trishul trials so far this year, including a flight test with enhanced range of 11.5km against a remotely piloted aircraft, have "met all mission objectives."
Trishul can engage targets like aircraft and helicopter, flying between 300 meters and 500 meters, by using its radar command-to- line, of-sight guidance system, it says.

The report card for Akash, tested 16 times since January 2005, is even better since it has completed all its development trials.

"On January 28 this year, interception of two moving targets by two Akash missiles with live warheads was successfully carried out," said an official.

"Akash has multiple-target handling capacity with a digitally coded command guidance system. Its user trials are now in progress," he said.

The missile's `Rajendra' radar, a multi-function phased array radar which carries out surveillance, target-tracking, missile acquisition and guidance, can simultaneously track several aircraft within a range of 40 to 60 kilometers.


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