BHUBANESWAR: Indian Air Force (IAF) on Monday test fired beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile Astra against an actual target in full operational configuration for the first time over Bay of Bengal paving way for its early induction in the armed forces.
Defence sources said two rounds of the missile from Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft were targeting pilot-less target aircraft (PTA) Banshee. The mission was termed ‘successful’ considering the missed-distance calculation, though the missile failed to achieve a direct hit.
‘’The missiles were fired both at high and medium altitude. They passed very close to the target and it can be termed near-hit. The mission was conducted in a war-like scenario and the missile was fired on actual targets. Data collected during the tests are being examined,’’ the sources said.
DRDO officials, however, claimed that the mission was excellent. The tests were conducted to demonstrate the aerodynamic characteristics of the missile. It has demonstrated the repeatability, robustness and endurance capability of Astra weapon system, said a senior official.
Indigenously designed and developed by DRDO, Astra possesses high Single Shot Kill Probability (SSKP), making it highly reliable. It is an all-aspect, all-weather missile with active radar terminal guidance, excellent electronic counter-counter measure (ECCM) features, smokeless propulsion and process improved effectiveness in multi-target scenario.
Sources informed that this trial will be followed by two more tests in coming days. Apart from Sukhoi-30 MKI, scientists have started integrating the weapon with homegrown ‘Tejas’ Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).
Astra is designed for an 80-km range in head-on mode and 20 km-range in tail-chase mode. The 3.8 metre long 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.
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.