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India Tests Surface-To-Air Missile

File photo of an Akash missile being fired.

Bhubaneshwar, India (AFP) Oct 03, 2005
India Monday successfully tested a homemade surface-to-air missile three times at a coastal range in the eastern state of Orissa, a government official said.

The multi-target missile Akash - meaning sky in Hindi - was first fired at 12:50 pm (0720 GMT) from a mobile launcher at the Chandipur-on-Sea testing site, 200 kilometres (125 miles) northeast of Bhubaneswar, the Orissa state capital, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Two more tests followed within a span of 20 minutes.

In all three tests the missile responded perfectly, hitting the intended target, official sources said.

The 700-kilogramme (1,540 pound) Akash, which can track 100 targets simultaneously with onboard radar, can move at a speed of 600 metres (1,980 feet) a second and deliver a 55 kilogramme (121 pound) warhead across 27 kilometres (17 miles) in 50 seconds.

Akash was tested three times in June this year, and also underwent a successful trial with a live warhead on November 30, 2004.

The missile is one of five being developed by India's state-run Defence Research and Development Organization, which launched a project in 1983 to build an array of weapons. It hopes to cap the programme with a ballistic missile that can fly 5,000 kilometres (3,100 miles).

Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan, who came close to war in 2002 but whose relations have warmed since, frequently test-fire missiles.

The foreign ministers of the two countries, who are meeting in Islamabad, signed an agreement on Monday to notify each other 72 hours in advance of ballistic missile tests.

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