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Astra-MK1 Ready for Action: Indian Air Force to Deploy Homegrown Missiles by 2023

Contracts for the purchase of Astra Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missiles and other equipment necessary for their operation have been signed between the Indian Air Force and Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL). The entire value of the contracts is around 386 million US dollars, equivalent to 29.7 billion Indian Rupees. This step aims to reduce dependence on foreign arms imports and strengthen national security.

ASTRA is a state-of-the-art BVR air-to-air missile to engage and destroy highly manoeuvring supersonic aerial targets, designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Research Centre Imarat (RCI) and other laboratories of DRDO.

By the end of 2023, it is anticipated that the first batch of Astra-MK1 missiles to be developed on home soil will have been put into service. Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) has already been granted permission from the relevant Indian authorities to begin the serial manufacture of the Astra-MK1 missile. This is an important step forward in the development of the missile industry in India.

LCA Tejas LSP 7 firing Astra Mk-1
LCA Tejas LSP 7 firing Astra Mk-1

Astra missiles have been successfully integrated into Su-30MKI aircraft, confirming their compatibility and efficiency throughout the testing process. There are plans to equip foreign-made fighter aircraft with these new missiles.

On August 23, 2023, Tejas, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) LSP-7 effectively fired the indigenous ASTRA Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile off the coast of Goa. The missile was launched from the aircraft at approximately 20,000 ft.

A more sophisticated model with a longer range, called the Astra-MK2, is now in the development stage. Static firing tests have revealed that progress is being made in creating this form of the missile. The Indian Air Force should see an enhancement in its combat capability by introducing the Astra-MK2 aircraft.

While the range of the Astra Mk-1 is approximately 110 kilometres, the Mk-2 is being developed with a range of over 150 kilometres, and a Mk-3 iteration with an even greater range is being considered. A variant of Astra with a lesser range than Mk-1 is also under development.



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