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.