BHUBANESWAR: One more round of air-to-air beyond visual range (BVR) missile Astra was test fired from the fighter aircraft Sukhoi-30 MKI on Tuesday. The missile was fired against a simulated live target - an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over the Bay of Bengal.
Defence sources said the aircraft that took off from Kalaikunda air force base in West Bengal launched the sleek missile at an altitude of 4,000 metres towards Banshee, a British drone.
This was third test of the missile by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the last two days. “Like previous two trials, the missile though was coordinated for a direct hit, achieved near-hit. The trial was conducted to demonstrate the aerodynamic characteristics of the missile at a low altitude,” the sources informed.
The missile, which uses a smokeless propulsion system, is more advanced than the BVR missiles of its class used by the US, France and Russia. It has the capability to kill fast moving highly manoeuvring aerial targets.
The captive trials will establish the compatibility of the missile’s electronics with the Sukhoi-30 MKI avionics. In terms of sheer technology, Astra is more complex than even the nuclear-capable Agni series of strategic ballistic missiles.
The dual-mode guidance consisting of an upgraded mid-course internal and active radar terminal homing systems allows Astra missile to locate and track targets at different altitudes. From a high altitude of 24 km to sea level, the missile can engage targets at different angles. The missile is expected to undergo trials for three more days.