Following a series of successful live firing trials of the indigenously developed Astra Air-to-Air combat missile, DRDO (Defence Research and Development organisation) has announced the completion of developmental trails of the system, thus, paving for production of the system.
DRDO in lieu with the Indian Air Force (IAF), the end user of the system, conducted at least seven firing trials against Pilotless Target Aircraft (PTA) over the Bay of Bengal, off the Chandipur coast from 11th Sep to 14th, 2017. According to sources, the missile was test fired to prove its combat effectiveness and was fired in Very Long Range configuration against manoeuvring aerial targets from a modified Sukhoi Su-30 Mki aircraft.
DRDO has stated that all sub-systems including the indigenously developed RF Seeker, has performed accurately meeting all mission parameters and objectives. It further said that two missiles were also launched in the combat configuration with live warhead and both the missiles neutralised the designated loitering targets.
Astra, a Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM), has been developed by Hyderabad based DRDL (Defence Research and Development Laboratory) and RCI (Research Centre Imarat). While, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has been instrumental in integrating the system aboard the firing platforms, at least 50 public and private industries have contributed in the developmental cycle. Having completed its developmental trials, the missile will now enter production phase with the state-run Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).
Team Astra have been congratulated by Raksha Mantri Smt Nirmala Sitharaman and Dr S. Christopher, Chairman – DRDO and Secretary Department of Defence (R&D), for their success in developing and flight testing such a formidable class of weapon system. Dr G. Satheesh Reddy, Director General, Missiles and Strategic Systems stated that the outcome of this programme will be of great support in development of variants of Air-to-Air and Surface-to-Air Missiles.
Astra, which will eventually emerge as the mainstay air-to-air combat missile of the air force, has proven kill radius of 80-110 kilometer and is powered by a highly efficient solid propelled fuel rocket engine. The induction of the system to the ranks of the air force will provide the air warriors the capability to decimate aerial targets at beyond visual ranges.