Astra Missile to be integrated with LCA-Tejas Very Soon
While Indian Air Force plans to conduct no hold barred User Trials of India’s first indigenously developed Beyond Range Air-to-air missile Astra Missiles in few days to gauge the performance of the missile system in real threat operational environment, makers of LCA-Tejas have decided to start working on integrating Astra BVRAAM into LCA-Tejas soon.
Limited Serial Production lot of 50 Astra BVRAAM which has entered production at the recently opened production facility by Defence minister Arun Jaitley will exclusively be used to train pilots to understand strength and weakness of the missile system so that it can be used at optimal level and initial lot will also be used for integration work with other fighters in IAF fleet .
Once the Limited Serial Production is exhausted user defined minor software and hardware modification will make its way to Production lot which will be ordered in Bulk. IAF plans to integrate Astra BVRAAM into its Interceptor fleet of Sukhoi-30, Mig-29, and Mirage to replace their expensive imported BVRAAMs.
“A newly developed indigenous seeker has been fitted with the weapon system. It is being put under trial for the second time. The seeker provides the missile required guidance besides an update mid-course internal guidance which help locate and track targets,” said a defence official.
Last year, the IAF had cleared limited series production of the missile and decided to obtain at least 50 missiles to gauge its performance before giving bulk order for its all fighter aircraft.
The missile tested during last December had successfully demonstrated its aerodynamic characteristics, repeatability, robustness and endurance capability. The IAF and the DRDO are also working on integrating the missile on light combat aircraft Tejas.
Astra possesses high single shot kill probability making it highly reliable and it is the first homegrown missile which has been integrated with Sukhoi-30 MKI. It is an all-weather missile with excellent electronic counter-countermeasure (ECCM) features.
The single stage and solid fuelled Astra is more advanced in its category than the contemporary beyond visual range missiles. Travelling at a speed of Mach 1.2 to 1.4, it is capable of engaging and destroying highly maneuverable aerial targets.
The missile has an operational range of 80 km in head-to-head mode and 20 km range in tail-chase mode. The 3.8 metre long missile, which has a diameter of 178 mm, can carry about 15
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
There are several plans to indigenous the missile completely by replacing Russian R 77 radar seeker into Indian made one. And the improved Mark II version with an increased range is also under planning. Su 30 MKI, MiG 29, Mirage 2000, Jaguar and Tejas (India’s indigenously developed fighter plane) are to be armed with Astra and also 36 Rafale planes will be equipped with indigenously developed astra missile which can prove to be a force multiplier of Indian Airforce.