BALASORE: India Thursday successfully test-fired beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAM) Astra from fighter aircraft Sukhoi. The indigenously built world class missile was flight tested in full operational configuration against a live target propelling its quick induction in the armed forces.
Defence sources said, the missile was launched from Sukhoi 30 MKI aircraft at about 12.30 pm and it successfully hit pilot less target aircraft (PTA) off the Odisha coast. On Wednesday, the missile was fired against a simulated target. The test conducted as part of induction phase trial was aimed at checking the control system and its stability which were validated during the experiment. Once operational, this futuristic weapon will propel India into an elite club of countries such as the US, Russia, France and Israel.
Director of Chandipur based Integrated Test Range (ITR) MVKV Prasad said the missile hit the live target at long range and met all the mission objectives. “The test is successful. The missile has demonstrated its repeatability, robustness and endurance capability,” he said. The indigenously developed 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.
Entirely a complex missile Astra can intercept fast-moving aerial targets at supersonic speeds (Mach 1.2 to 1.4). It has a maximum speed of Mach 4. First tested in 2003, the missile has completed a series of developmental ground trials, captive flight tests and user associate launches from fighter aircraft from different locations and different weather conditions.
The single-stage, smoke-less, solid propelled missile is one of the smallest missiles developed by the DRDO as far as size and weight is concerned. The 3.8 metre-long missile has a diameter of 178 mm with an overall launch weight of 154 kg and can carry about 15 kg of high-explosive warhead, activated by a proximity fuse.
The missile was initially planned to arm Jaguar, Mig-29 and light combat air-craft (LCA) Tejas, but meanwhile DRDO has integrated Astra with Indian Air Force's front line fighter air-crafts like Sukhoi-30 MKI. Fitted with a terminal active radar-seeker and an updated mid-course internal guidance system, the missile can locate and track targets at different altitudes.
“Unique feature of the missile is that it can’t be traceable by any enemy radar thus making it successful it destroying the targets. In terms of sheer technology, the Astra is more complex than even the nuclear-capable Agni series of strategic ballistic missiles,” said a defence scientist.
The Astra missiles have undergone rigorous testing on Sukhoi in the captive mode for avionics integration and seeker evaluation. Last year the missile with higher range capability was also successfully test fired from the same aircraft from a naval range off Goa coast.