BHUBANESWAR: Indian Air Force (IAF) is slated to carry out a series of captive trials of indigenously developed beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile ‘Astra’ from a fighter aircraft from Monday.
Defence sources said the missile will be fired from Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft targeting a Pilotless Target Aircraft (PTA) at different altitudes from different angles over the Bay of Bengal to reconfirm the killing efficiency of the all-terrain and all-weather weapon system.
The anti-aircraft missile, considered one of the best of its kind in the world, will be tested for three days. Altogether, three rounds of the missile have reportedly been planned to be test-fired.
The focus is on to achieve success during all the three trials this time as a coordinated air exercise on Wednesday reportedly ended in failure as the missile nose-dived after it was fired from the aircraft and exploded on the sea beach causing enormous noise.
The missile was first tested from the aircraft at a naval range in the western sector on May 4, 2014. ‘Astra,’ which possesses high single shot kill probability making it highly reliable, is the first homegrown missile to be fired from Sukhoi-30 MKI.
“The captive trials are aimed at establishing the compatibility of the missile’s electronics with the Su-30MKI avionics. Apart from Sukhoi, the missile can be integrated with Mirage-2000, MiG-29, Jaguar and Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA),” a defence official said.
The single stage, solid fuelled ‘Astra’ missile is more advanced in its category than the contemporary BVR missiles and is capable of engaging and destroying highly manoeuvrable supersonic aerial targets.
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 and be fitted to any fighter aircraft. ‘Astra’ is a futuristic missile and can intercept the target at super-sonic speed of Mach 1.2 to 1.4. The sleek missile, capable of ducking radar eyes, is the smallest of the missiles developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). After its induction, the missile will be one of the best of its kind in the world in 100 km range.