Speaking at Sweden’s International Aerospace Forum at Malmen airbase on the outskirts of the city of Linkoping on 31st May, Dr VK Saraswat, Scientific Advisor for India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) provided some details regarding the failed Akash medium-to-high altitude Surface-to-Air Missile launch on 26th May: One missile failed to reach its target during a test firing of two rounds from the country’s Integrated Test Range on the coast of the Bay of Bengal.
According to Dr Saraswat, “an interuption to the power supply for the Akash system’s fire control radar,” caused the loss of the round. During the test, fire control was provided by a DRDO Rajendra radar which performs this function for a deployed Akash battery. As the Akash missile uses command guidance for its entire flight, a loss of power to the radar would presumably be enough to cause the missile to loose its target lock.
In addition to discussing the Akash test, Dr. Saraswat provided some additional details regarding the potential of developing an Anti-Satellite Missile (ASM) using the country’s Agni medium-range and intercontinental ballistic missile as its base.
The scientist said that the Agni design would provide an ideal foundation for such a weapon, which could be teamed with an Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle to destroy the satellite. An ASM weapon could be developed by teaming the Akash system with the DRDO Prithvi Air Defence exoatmospheric anti-ballistic missile which employs an EKV. Dr. Saraswat stressed that no formal programme has been launched to develop an ASM, and that India was opposed to the weaponisation of outer space. However, the anouncement last month that the country could develop such a capability if it so desired may well have been devised as a political warning to China lest it contemplate the destruction of any Indian spacecraft. India currently operates a clutch of satellites including communications, imaging and radar satellites.