BUBHANESWAR: A series of user associate trials of beyond visual range air-to-air missile Astra has been planned by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the next few days. The sleek missile would be inducted in the armed forces by end of this year.
Defence sources said the missile developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) would be fired from Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft targeting an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The test is aimed at revalidating the seeker of the missile and its killing efficiency.
“A newly developed indigenous seeker has been fitted with the weapon system. It is being put under trial for the second time. The seeker provides the missile required guidance besides an update mid-course internal guidance which help locate and track targets,” said a defence official.
Though the IAF had planned to start the trials from Wednesday, the mission could not take place reportedly due to inclement weather conditions. While the missile will be fired from the aircraft, another jet will track it all along the flight path.
“At least eight trials have been planned in this series and if weather permits, the tests would start from Thursday,” the official informed and added that the missile would be fired in a war-like situation.
Last year, the IAF had cleared limited series production of the missile and decided to obtain at least 50 missiles to gauge its performance before giving bulk order for its all fighter aircraft.
The missile tested during last December had successfully demonstrated its aerodynamic characteristics, repeatability, robustness and endurance capability. The IAF and the DRDO are also working on integrating the missile on light combat aircraft Tejas.
Astra possesses high single shot kill probability making it highly reliable and it is the first homegrown missile which has been integrated with Sukhoi-30 MKI. It is an all-weather missile with excellent electronic counter-countermeasure (ECCM) features.
The single stage and solid fuelled Astra is more advanced in its category than the contemporary beyond visual range missiles. Travelling at a speed of Mach 1.2 to 1.4, it is capable of engaging and destroying highly maneuverable aerial targets.
The missile has an operational range of 80 km in head-to-head mode and 20 km range in tail-chase mode. The 3.8 metre long missile, which has a diameter of 178 mm, can carry about 15 kg of high-explosive warhead, activated by a proximity fuse. It can duck radar eyes and is the smallest of the missiles developed by the DRDO.