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Astra Mk-1 : Air-to-Air Missile

Context:

The Ministry of Defence said that it has signed a contract with the Hyderabad-based public-sector Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) for supply of the Astra Mark-1, at a cost of Rs 2,971 crore, for deployment on fighter jets of the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.

  • The Astra Mk-1 is a beyond visual range (BVR), air-to-air missile (AAM).

Relevance:

GS III- Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Astra and its variants
  2. Strategic significance

Astra and its variants

  • The missile has been designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for deployment on fighter jets like Sukhoi-30 MKI and Tejas of the IAF and the Mig-29K of the Navy.
  • BVM missiles are capable of engaging beyond the range of 20 nautical miles or 37 kilometers .
  • AAMs are fired from an airborne asset to destroy an airborne target.
  • Astra project was officially launched in the early 2000s with defined parameters and proposed future variants. Around 2017, the development phase of Mk-1 version was complete.
  • Several successful tests have been conducted since 2017 from Sukhoi-30 MKIs.
  • While the range for Astra Mk-1 is around 110 km, the Mk-2 with a range over 150 km is under development and Mk-3 version with a longer range is being envisaged.
  • One more version of Astra, with a range smaller than Mk-1 is also under development.

Strategic significance

  • The missile has been designed based on requirements specified by the IAF for BVR as well as close-combat engagement, reducing the dependency on foreign sources.
  • AAMs with BVR capability provides large stand-off ranges to own fighter aircraft which can neutralise adversary airborne assets without exposing themselves to adversary air defence measures.
  • Stand-off range means the missile is launched at a distance sufficient to allow the attacking side to evade defensive fire from the target.
  • Astra is technologically and economically superior to many such imported missile systems.
  • The missile can travel at speeds more than four times that of sound and can reach a maximum altitude of 20 km, making it extremely flexible for air combat.
  • The missile is fully integrated on the Sukhoi 30 MKI I and will be integrated with other fighter aircraft in a phased manner, including the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas.
  • The Indian Navy will integrate the missile on the MiG-29K fighter aircraft which are deployed on the Navy’s aircraft carriers, thus adding to the lethality of India’s Aircraft carriers.

-Source: Indian Express


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