Final Developmental Trial of Astra This Month
By Hemant Kumar Rout | Published: 02nd February 2014 10:57 AM |
Indian scientists are readying for the final round developmental trial of beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAM) Astra before the world class weapon is inducted in the Air Force possibly next year.
The missile is likely to be test fired from a ground launcher at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) off the Odisha coast this month. Preparation is on at the Chandipur based test facility and the launching platform is being readied for the test.
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which has designed and developed the missile, has been criticised several times for the delay in full-proofing the Astra project. Over 10 years into its development, the missile is yet to be inducted.
The purpose of the trial is to gauge the performance of the motor, propulsion system and the configurations of the missile vehicle besides its aero-dynamics evaluation. A defence official said DRDO was expecting to complete the ground development trials of the missile by end of this year and induct the missile in 2015.
While the missile had demonstrated three consecutive trials by successfully intercepting the targets in December 2012, its carriage trials with Sukhoi-30 aircraft were completed at Pune defence base in early December last year. The scientists associated with Mission Astra are leaving no stone unturned for the successful trial of the missile as the crucial test would pave the way for an early induction of the missile. After the developmental trials, the DRDO would go for aerial tests of the missile.
The 3.8-metre missile, which has launch weight of about 154 kg, uses solid fuel propellant and a 15-kg high-explosive warhead, activated by a proximity fuse.
The missile has been designed to be capable of engaging targets at varying ranges and altitudes allowing engagement of both short-range targets (upto 20 km) and long-range targets (upto 80 km) using alternative propulsion modes.
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.
Astra is designed for an 80-km range in head-on mode and 20 km-range in tail-chase mode. As an anti-aircraft missile it can be fired after receiving a signal from the far away target through its onboard manoeuvres based on radio frequency.
One of its versions having 90 km to 110 km range can cruise at an altitude of 15 km, another having a range of 40 km can destroy a target at an altitude upto 30,000 ft while the third one with a range of 30 km is capable of hitting the target at sea level.
Once inducted, the missile would arm the Air Force's Mirage 2000H, MiG-29, Sea Harrier, Su-30MKI, MiG-21 Bison and newly developed Tejas light combat aircraft.