India’s successful Astra tests readies missile for Air Force induction

File Photo: Astra missile test from a Su-30MKI aircraft.

New Delhi: India has successfully carried out five user trials of the ‘Astra’ beyond visual range air-to-air missile from an Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30MKI aircraft.

“The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully flight tested the Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) ‘Astra’ from Su-30 MKI platform off the coast of Chandipur, Odisha. The trails were held from 16th to 19th September 2019,” a Ministry of Defence statement said.

The trials were conducted by the IAF against Jet Banshee target aircraft simulating all possible threat scenarios. The five trials conducted during this period tested missiles in different configurations.

During the campaign, three missiles were launched in combat configuration with warhead and manoeuvring targets were neutralised to establish the end game capability of the missile.

The trial campaign also included a direct hit of the target by the tele-metered missile at maximum range. All the subsystems performed accurately meeting all the mission parameters and objectives, the statement said.

Astra has range of more than 100 km with modern guidance and navigation techniques. The missile has midcourse guidance and Radio Frequency seeker-based terminal guidance to achieve target destruction with pin point accuracy.

The effort for building a state-of-the-art BVRAAM by DRDO, together with IAF, has completed the user trial phase of the weapon system successfully. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has played a role in modifying the aircraft for weapon integration. More than 50 public and private industries have contributed in building the Astra weapon system.

The present flight trials have proved the end-to-end performance of the missile system in various combat scenarios giving greater confidence to users. The technologies developed under the programme will be the building blocks for development of future variants of air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles.

The five successful trials of Astra will culminate into induction of the missile system into Indian Air Force, which will certainly be a force multiplier considering its accuracy and effectiveness in neutralising aerial threats.

DRDO Chairman and Department of Defence Research and Development Secretary Dr G. Satheesh Reddy congratulated the ‘Astra’ team for developing and flight testing such a formidable class of weapon system. Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh congratulated the DRDO and the IAF teams for the successful trials.

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