As­tra mis­sile to be fired, two vari­ants re­vealed


With suc­cess­ful cap­tive tri­als com­pleted in April, and a fully re­con­fig­ured mis­sile now ready for the next phase of de­vel­op­ment test­ing, In­dia’s in­dige­nous be­yond vis­ual range air-to-air mis­sile As­tra is set for its de­but fir­ing from an air­craft by the end of this year. As first re­ported in SP’s M.A.I. in March this year, 2013 has been chris­tened ‘As­tra Year’ by DRDO in light of ex­pec­ta­tions that the As­tra be­yond vis­ual range air-to-air mis­sile will fi­nally see a flight test fir­ing from an IAF air­craft.

Now, it is con­firmed that it will hap­pen. It has also now learnt that while the base ver­sion As­tra Mk.1 will have an in­ter­cept range of 44 km, it will be the As­tra Mk.2 that will be a true force mul­ti­plier weapon, with an in­ter­cept range in ex­cess of 100 km. That, at any rate, is the in­tended con­fig­u­ra­tion. The As­tra will be de­ployed from un­der­wing hard­points on the Su-30MKI, not wingtip py­lons as ear­lier in­tended. The As­tra is an all-weather all as­pect be­yond vis­ual range and close com­bat mis­sile that will be de­ployed on the IAF’s LCA Te­jas, Su30MKI, Mi­rage 2000 and pos­si­ble, the Rafale MMRCA in the fu­ture too. The mis­sile sports ac­tive radar ter­mi­nal guid­ance (dual mode guid­ance), smoke­less propul­sion, im­prove elec­tronic counter-coun­ter­mea­sures and what the DRDO calls im­proved ef­fec­tive­ness in a mul­ti­tar­get sce­nario.

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