Astra missile being test fired from Su-30MKI (Photo courtesy - DRDO)
BALASORE (ODISHA): India’s first indigenously developed Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile Astra was test-fired successfully from fighter aircraft Su-30MKI by the Air Force from a naval range off Goa on Friday.
Defence sources said the launch conducted at an altitude of 6 km was a control and guidance flight which successfully demonstrated interception of an electronically simulated target at long range.
On June 9, a similar trial was conducted from the same defence base. Both the tests conducted to demonstrate the aerodynamic characteristics of the missile, have demonstrated the repeatability, robustness and endurance capability of Astra as a weapon system.
Astra is indigenously designed and developed by DRDO, possessing high Single Shot Kill Probability (SSKP) making it highly reliable. Astra is an all aspect, all weather missile with active radar terminal guidance, excellent ECCM features, smokeless propulsion and process improved effectiveness in multi-target scenario making it a highly advanced, state-of the-art missile.
Sources informed this trial will be followed by launch against actual target shortly. Many more trials have been planned and will be conducted to clear the launch envelope. Weapon integration with ‘Tejas’ Light Combat Aircraft will also be done in the near future.
Congratulating the team, Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister and DG of DRDO Avinash Chander attributed the continuing success of the development trials to the joint efforts by DRDO and Indian Air Force working together as team.
He appreciated the efforts of the Air Force test team from Aircraft System Testing Establishment (ASTE) for carrying out the trials inspite of the heavy monsoons in the west coast.
Astra is designed for an 80-km range in head-on mode and 20 km-range in tail-chase mode. The 3.8 metres long missile, which has launch weight about 154 kg, uses solid-fuel propellant and a 15 kg high-explosive warhead, activated by a proximity fuse.
Fitted with a terminal active radar-seeker and an updated mid-course internal guidance system, the missile can locate and track targets. It is difficult to track this missile as its on-board electronic counter-measures jam signals from the enemy radars.
As an anti-aircraft missile it can be fired after receiving a signal from the far away target through its on board manoeuvres based on radio frequency.
Director General (MSS) VG Sekaran said that the continuous success of Astra development trials is a confirmation of the maturity of DRDO in air-to-air missile design and implementation.
Astra Project Director S Venugopal said the air-launch trials of Astra are going on as scheduled with the support of Air Force and will meet all performance requirements of the IAF.
The air launch of Astra was perfect in all respect and is a culmination of years of effort by a very dedicated and competent team of the missile complex at Hyderabad, CEMILAC and Indian Air Force.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) carried out the modification in Su-30 along with IAF specialists, and many Indian industries have an important and enabling role in the production of reliable avionics, propulsion system, materials, airframe and software passing stringent airworthiness requirements for the missile.
The Astra missiles have undergone rigorous testing on Su30 in the captive mode for avionics integration and seeker evaluation in 2013. The project has thus reached the final stage of testing and evaluation, and the Mk-II variant with higher range capability is also planned to be tested by the end of 2014.