December 27, 2007 12:43:47 am
The Indian Air Force is all set to induct its first squadron of indigenous Akash surface-to-air missile after a series of successful user trials earlier this month. While the IAF top brass is still awaiting the reports of the field trials, Air Chief Marshal F H Major said on Wednesday that one squadron of the air defence system would “soon” be inducted.
“Things have gone on well. The user trials have concluded and we are awaiting the report. After this we will initiate the process of inducting one squadron of the missile system,” Major said on the sidelines of a function at the Air Force Museum here where he installed a ‘time capsule’ containing historical record of the recently concluded Platinum Jubilee celebrations of the force.
However, the Air Force chief refused to comment on how many units of the much-delayed missile system would eventually be inducted. One squadron would consist of 16 batteries of the missile that can take out incoming aircrafts and missiles within a range of 25 kilometres.
The missile, which has been under development for over two decades, has been hit by a series of delays and technical glitches. The Air Force had to rethink its air defence modernisation plan last year after yet another delay in the Akash programme.
Air Chief Marshal Major had said earlier this year that IAF placed an order for the Spyder missile system to plug crucial gaps in its air defence capabilities due to the delay in the Akash programme.
Earlier, he inaugurated the Platinum Jubilee ‘time capsule’ that will be opened in 2032 — the centenary year of the force. The capsule contains photographs, newspaper clippings and historical records of special events that occurred in the Platinum year of the Air Force. It also contains digital copies of IAF’s activities covering the past 15 years. Two similar capsules — installed in 1982 and 1992 — will also be opened in 2032 by the Air Force.
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