Lohegaon Air Force Station which is collocated with Pune Airport on the west coast of India is due to receive Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDR) Akash medium-range Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs) to protect the base against air attack.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) facility at Lohegaon is home to two Sukhoi Su-30MKI squadrons; namely 20 and 30 Squadrons of 2 Wing, nicknamed ‘Lightning’ and ‘Rhinos’ respectively. The Sukhois form a key component of the IAF’s strike and air defence force.
The induction of the first Akash squadron is expected to occur in a few months, according to Air Commodore Vivek R. Chaudhari, commanding officer of the Lohegaon base. An Akash squadron includes two batteries. Each battery comprises three missile launch vehicles, a command post and a passive phased-array Rajendra radar. This radar’s C-band surveillance radar can track up to 64 targets and simultaneously engage four. Engagements are controlled by the Rajendra’s X- and Ku-band antenna. At the squadron level, a Rohini S-band radar performs surveillance tracking targets at a range of up to 180km (97nm) and 59,000ft (17,983m). The missiles have a range of around 35km (19nm), and can engage targets at 59,055ft (18.000m) altitude.
The news of the Akash deployment to Lohegaon follows the delivery of the first Akash units to the IAF this March.