The Narendra Modi government on December 30 approved export of the indigenously manufactured Akash surface-to-air missile system. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Modi.
The government has also created a high-ranking committee comprising the defence minister, the external affairs minister and the national security advisor for faster export approvals.
Sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint that at least a dozen foreign countries, including the UAE, Vietnam and Philippines, have shown interest in acquiring the Akash system.
“After its induction in the Services, interest is shown in Akash missile by many friendly countries during International Exhibitions/Def Expo/Aero India. The Cabinet approval will facilitate Indian manufactures to participate in Request for Information/Request for Proposal issued by various countries,” a statement by the defence ministry noted.
“This Committee would authorise subsequent exports of major indigenous platforms to various countries. The Committee would also explore various available options including the Government-to-Government route,” the statement added.
It also noted that the export version of Akash will be different from the system currently deployed with the Indian armed forces.
Dozen countries interested in Akash
With a range of 25 km, the Akash missile was inducted in the Indian Air Force in 2014 and in the Indian Army the following year. About 96 per cent of the system is indigenously manufactured.
The system can simultaneously engage multiple targets in Group Mode or Autonomous Mode. It has built in Electronic Counter-Counter Measures (ECCM) features and the entire weapon system has been configured on mobile platforms.
Besides Akash, there is also interest in other major platforms like coastal surveillance systems, radars and air platforms.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh said the cabinet’s decision will help improve defence products in the country.
“So far, Indian defence exports included parts/components etc. The export of big platforms was minimal. This decision by the Cabinet would help the country to improve its defence products and make them globally competitive,” Singh tweeted Wednesday.
He added that the government intends to focus on exporting high-value defence platforms, to achieve the target of $5 billion defence exports and improving strategic relations with friendly foreign countries.
According to sources, the Akash missile system will be the first weapons platform to be exported from India. The country has previously built fast patrol vessels and helicopters for foreign countries besides radar and ammunition.
The missile is manufactured by Bharat Dynamics (BDL) while Bharat Electronics Limited produces its phased array radar.