The Indian armed forces are going in for a huge induction of the indigenous Akash surface-to-air missile systems to counter the threat posed by enemy fighters, drones and helicopters on western and eastern fronts as well as protect “vital areas and installations’’. Developed by DRDO after 25 years of technical glitches, the 25-km range Akash air defence weapon system finally seems to have found favour with the armed forces, who are desperate to plug existing operational gaps in air defence. The IAF had earlier ordered eight Akash squadrons — six of them will be based in North East to counter China — for Rs 6,200 crore. Now, the Cabinet Committee on Security has cleared two Akash regiments, with six firing batteries and hundreds of missiles each, for the Army. The total order for the Army stands at Rs 14,180 crore at present. The low-reaction-time Akash is designed to neutralise multiple aerial targets attacking from several directions simultaneously, with a digitallycoded command guidance system, in all weather conditions.