Surface to Air Missile (UPSC Science & Technology)

Science and Technology is an important and dynamic segment in the UPSC Syllabus. The Commission has asked several questions related to missile launches, its types, etc. To tackle such factual questions in the UPSC Prelims, it is essential to know several facts and figures related to the topic.

A surface-to-air missile (SAM), or ground-to-air missile (GTAM, is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles. It is one type of antiaircraft defence system in modern armed forces.

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These missiles have replaced most other forms of dedicated antiaircraft weapons, such as machine guns and flak guns that now serve specialised roles such as area denial and troop suppression.

India’s military research agency, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has designed many SAM missiles, both long and medium-range, to augment India’s overall defence capabilities. Some of them are given below:

Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LRSAM)

  • LRSAM is jointly designed and developed by Israel Aerospace Industries and DRDO.
  • LRSAM is also called Barak 8 missile in Israel meaning lightning in the Hebrew language.
  • For both LRSAM/MRSAM (Medium Range Surface to Air Missile) the missile configuration is same.
  • For the LRSAM, DRDO has designed and developed Dual Pulse Propulsion System and other safe arm mechanisms for Solid Propulsion system.
  • The missile is designed to defend against any type of airborne threat including aircraft, helicopters, anti-ship missiles, and UAVs as well as cruise missiles and combat jets.
  • Both maritime and land-based versions of the system are available.
  • The LRSAM programme consists of Missiles, MFSTAR (Radar), Weapon Control System, Vertical Launcher unit and Two- way data link.
  • All the subsystems of the missile performed as predicted and achieved the desired goal of hitting the incoming target.
  • Further Operational Flight Trials (O.F.T) will be conducted shortly from Indian Naval Platform before induction into the service.


  • The missile project is a next-generation quick-reaction surface-to-air missile (QRSAM) with a lethal near-hundred per cent kill probability under development by DRDO.
  • It is a short-range (15 km, 9.3 mi) surface-to-air point defence missile system.
  • The missile will fill the gap created by the Indian government’s decision to wind up the development of the Trishul point defence missile system.
  • It is believed to be a blend of the French Mica and DRDO Trishul. Maitri will build on the work done by DRDO while developing the Trishul missile, using technology transfer from MBDA to fill technological gaps that led to the failure of the Trishul project.


  • Spyder (Surface-to-air PYthon and DERby) is an acquired missile system from Israel which is a short-range, quick reaction missile to neutralise enemy targets up to a distance of 15 km and at heights between 20-and-9,000 metres.
  • Spyder is, however, shorter than India’s indigenously developed surface-to-air ‘Akash’ missile, which has a strike range of 25 km.
  • Spyder is an all-weather missile which has an automatic process of engaging an aggressive aircraft or missile. Besides aircraft and UAVs, it can also neutralise low-level cruise missiles.

Surface to Air Missile – UPSC Notes:- Download PDF Here

Aspirants can go through some relevant links given below for their preparation-

Air to Air Missile Anti Tank Missiles Missiles Of India
Surface to Surface Missile Anti-Radiation Missile (ARM) Anti Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM)
DRDO Varunastra Prithvi II – Single-Stage Liquid-Fueled Missile Pinaka Multi-barrel Rocket launcher (MBRL) System
Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) India’s Nuclear Doctrine BrahMos – India’s Fastest Missile
Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)  Akash Missile System Successfully Test Fired Terminal High Altitude Area Defense
Hague Code of Conduct (HCoC) Mission Shakti | Anti-Satellite Missile Test (ASAT) Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM)

Medium Range Surface to Air Missile


  • Akash is an indigenously developed medium-range surface-to-air anti-aircraft defence system developed by the DRDO
  • It was developed as a part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.
  • It has a strike range of 25 km and can carry a warhead of 60 kg.
  • It can fly at a supersonic speed ranging from Mach 2.8 to 3.5
  • The missile system can target aircraft up to 30 km away, at altitudes up to 18,000 m.
  • It has the capability to “neutralise aerial targets like fighter jets, cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles” as well as ballistic missiles.
  •  It is in operational service with the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force.

Akash N-G

  • Akash N-G (short for Akash New-Generation) is a successor of the Akash missile program.
  • It comes with improvements such as Dual-pulse solid rocket motor, a canisterized launcher and an AESA Multifunction targeting radar to improve its probability of kill with smaller ground operations.
  • The range increases from the current 40 km to greater than 80 km.
  • An active electronically scanned array Multi-Function Radar (MFR) and optical proximity fuze will improve the effectiveness of the missile against target.
  • DRDO successfully conducted the first test of the missile on 25 January 2021 from Launching Complex – III at the Integrated Test Range near Chandipur, Odisha.


  • It is a short-range (500m to 9 km) quick reaction all-weather surface-to-air missile designed to counter a low-level attack developed by India.
  • It was developed by DRDO as a part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program.
  • It can also be used as an anti-sea skimmer from a ship against low flying attacking missiles and also against moving targets.

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