Saturday, March 26, 2011

BDL inks Rs 14,000-cr deal with Army for Akash missiles

In one of the biggest Defence production contracts, Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) has signed a Rs 14,000-crore contract with the Indian Army for the production of Akash, the surface-to-air (SAM) missile developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The public sector undertaking, BDL, recently received an order for the Air Force version of Akash for over Rs 1,000 crore, the Chairman and Managing Director, Major Gen Ravi Ketarpal, said in a release from the company.

The Akash missile has a range of 25 km with a low reaction time of 15 seconds. It can shoot down aircraft, helicopters and UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) travelling at speeds of up to 700 m/sec. The weapon system is capable of engaging targets in all weather conditions.

Developed by the DRDO as part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), the missile has been a priority for the armed forces, who plan to use it for the close defence of its installations from all types of aerial attacks.

The contract is the highest value placed by the Indian Army to date, the BDL release said.

BDL is gearing up to manufacture a series of missiles that have been or are being developed by the DRDO by setting up facilities in Andhra Pradesh and other States. It has been allocated land for expansion in two places in Andhra Pradesh.

BDL is the main manufacturer of the indigenously developed missiles. With the implementation of the contracts, it expects to turn into a Navaratna Defence PSU with a turnover projected at over Rs 5,000 crore by 2015. Currently, it is a mini-ratna.

Under the IGMDP, the DRDO has developed Agni, the long-range missile; Prithvi (different versions), a medium range missile; and is close to completing Nag, the anti-tank missile. Akash is the latest to complete all user trials and enter the production and induction phase.

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