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India completes hat-trick of surface-to-air missile tests

AFP | June 21, 2005

India successfully tested Tuesday a locally-built surface-to-air missile for the third time in five days as part of final trials before its military induction, defence officials said.

The missile Akash -- meaning sky in Hindi -- was tested at a range in eastern Orissa state, defence ministry officials said in Orissa's state capital of Bhubaneswar.

It was fired at 1:00 pm (0730 GMT) from a mobile launcher at the Chandipur-on-Sea testing range, 200 kilometres (125 miles) northeast of Bhubaneswar, they said.

The 700 kilogramme (1,540 pound) missile was tested Monday and last Friday.

"Comprehensive trials are now on to test various subsystems. Today's launch was to monitor its propulsion and communications systems," a scientist at the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation said in New Delhi.

"The trials are reaching a conclusion and this missile will be soon handed over for induction into the (defence) services," he told AFP.

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

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.

The missile is being developed by DRDO which launched in 1983 a project to build an array of weapons. It hopes to cap the programme with a ballistic missile which can fly 5,000 kilometres (3,100 miles).

In 1999, a year after India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons, the two countries agreed to notify each other ahead of missile tests.

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