Astra Missile could bring a new dimension in IAF Aerial Firepower

Astra is an active radar homing beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) developed by the De fence Research and Development Organization, India. Astra is designed to be capable of engaging targets at varying range and altitudes allowing for engagement of both short-range targets (up to 20 km) and long-range targets (up to 80 km) using alternative propulsion modes. The Astra is a Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile capable of being launched from India’s Sukhoi-30 MKI twin-jet air superiority fighter. The Indian Air Force currently operates roughly 200 total Su-30 MKI, but plans to eventually operate around 270. The Astra is 149 inches in length, making it the most compact missile developed indigenously in India capable of supersonic speeds.

The highly agile, accurate and reliable missile features high single-shot kill probability (SSKP) and is capable of operating under all weather conditions.Length of the weapon system is 3.8m, while its diameter is 178mm, and an overall launch weight is160kg. Its low all-up weight provides high launch range capability and the system’s airborne launcher can be used with different fighter aircraft.The electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) feature improves the missile’s target tracking capability by reducing the effect of electronic countermeasures of the enemy targets in jamming environments.

The Astra BVR air-to-air missile is powered by a smokeless, single stage, solid fuel propulsion system. It can intercept and destroy enemy targets with a launch speed between Mach 0.4 and Mach 2.Launch range and launch altitudes of the weapon system are 80km and 20km respectively. The missile can achieve 40 g turns near sea level while engaging a moving target

Astra long-range air to air missiles variant

Astra IR

DRDO has been tasked to develop an advanced focal plane array IIR seeker that gathers the target data using the aircraft sensors with resistance against infrared countermeasures. Astra IR will borrow most of the components from the Astra Mk1 program and might have curtailed range to make the IIR seeker more effective for within visual range (WVR) combat missions. Astra IR is not India’s first short-range WVR AAM but like Medium and Beyond Visual Range (BVR) AAM system with Dual variant to defeat enemy, countermeasures against two different seekers. Astra IR will be  close combat missile with imaging infrared homing for shorter range up to 40 km (25 mi)
Astra Mk2
will use a dual pulse rocket motor borrowed from the MR-SAM program which will expand its range even further than the base Astra Mk1 to around 120-150km against different aerial targets. DRDO initially was planning to use a conventional motor to bump its range but decided to change it to dual pulse rocket motor instead since a dual pulse rocket motor contains propellant that is divided into multiple sections by an internal barrier, which will perforate as the second igniter fires to allow the propellant to exhaust through the same nozzle as the first propellant, thus increasing its range even with lesser propellent.
Astra Mk3
will be based on the Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) technology which India is developing jointly with Russia for both Air-to-Air and Surface-to-Air Missile systems. DRDO has confirmed that the range of the SFDR based very-long-range air-to-air missile, or VLRAAM likely to be called Astra Mk3 will have a range of 70-340km in the power ‘ ON’ Mode. The missile program which began in 2013 already has been tested from ground-based launchers but it is yet to be tested in its full configuration. Mk3 will have a No Escape Zone range of over 100km for a fighter-sized target and will exceed the maximum range of 200km for the same.

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