In an effort to achieve the target of $5 billion defence exports and improving strategic relations with friendly foreign countries, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has approved the export of the indigenous `Akash’ surface to air missile system missile system. The CCS chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Dec 30, 2020) has for faster approvals for export of the indigenous `Akash’ missiles, and other weapons systems and air platforms approved setting up a high-level committee. This will comprise of the defence minister, External Affairs Minister and National Security Advisor.
Several friendly nations including the ASEAN nations Vietnam, the Philippines, and UAE in the Middle East have shown interest in buying the indigenous `Akash’ missile system.
What does the Ministry of Defence (MoD) say?
According to a statement released at the end of the CCS, it said, “With the Cabinet approval, the Indian manufacturers will be able to participate in Request for Proposal/Information issued by various countries. Friendly nations have expressed interest in the indigenous `Akash’ missile after it has been inducted in the services.
Role of the Special Committee
It will authorize exports of major indigenous platforms to friendly nations. And would explore various options including the Government-to-Government route.
The `Akash’ missile system which is going to be exported will be different from the one which the Indian armed forces are using.
According to the defence minister Rajnath Singh, the government intends to focus on exporting high-value defence platforms. And, the Cabinet’s decision will help to improve the defence products in the country and will make them competitive globally.
What has been exported previously?
The Akash Missile system will be the first-ever weapons platform to be exported. But India has been building fast patrol boats, helicopters and ammunition and radars for global customers.
More about the missile
The Missile is already inducted in the Indian Air Force (2014) and the Indian Army (2015).
It has a range of 25 km which helps to keep the helicopters, fighters and drones from attacking critical installations.
Almost 96 per cent of the system is manufactured indigenously.
It has the capability to engage multiple targets in Group Mode or Autonomous Mode, simultaneously.
It comes with built-in Electronic Counter-Counter Measures (ECCM) features.
The whole system has been configured on mobile platforms.
It has been designed by DRDO and has been produced by defence PSU Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL).
Interest in other platforms too
Several countries have expressed interest in buying other major platforms including the radars, surveillance systems as well as air platforms. Countries from South America, Middle East as well as ASEAN nations have expressed interest in the Indo-Russian BrahMos missile too.
The UAE is also looking at the indigenous Astra 70-kilometre range air-to-air missile. This can be fitted on the Mirage fighter planes that the Air Force of that country is operating.