High time, India revives the Original Astra Mk2 Program
After recent Aerial clash with Pakistan, there is a mad rush to procure next-generation air to air missiles from various countries to arm them on front line fighter jets like Su-30MKI, Mig-29 and Mirage-2000 with Western, Indian and Russian developed even though no such urgency has been shown to expedite development of local indigenous programs in the first place.
Astra mk2 will be using dual pulse rocket motor(cheap alternative of ramjet) which will boost it range to 125km if launched from 12km altitude and will gradually increase the NEZ (no escape zone) of the missile. Astra will be the mainstay of Indian airforce and Navy A2A missile arsenal in the future. Currently about 50 Astra missiles have entered in the initial production will be handed over to the airforce for some more testings, and will be inducted after the all the tests are done and bugs are sorted out. It is also said that mk2 may feature 3D thrust vectoring capability as it won’t have those mid body control surfaces.
Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet tactical Air launched Missile is a new breed of an Air-to-Air missile which India has been jointly developing with good friend Russia. SFDR aka Astra-2 is India’s first at Next generation beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) which will incorporate booster-ram jet sustainer propulsion system, which will propel new missile in the sameclass as MBDA’s Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile.
The missile flew in its intended trajectory at a speed of Mach 3 (thrice the speed of sound) and performed as expected perfectly validating the new indigenous technology. “It was a booster phase test of the missile and the mission was a major milestone for the strategic missile
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) which was in charge of developing Astra Mk1 AAM had planned a successor which was still supposed to use a solid propellant which included improvements capability such has increased in excess of 100 km and LOBL (look down shoot/down-look capability ) and LOAL modes of operations with improved two way secure data link system .
Present Astra Mk1 has a non-classified range of 75-80km and proposed Astra Mk2 was convinced as a newer version of the missile system developed to compliment each other. Since Astra Mk2 was supposed to be an Extended Range version of the baseline Astra Mk1 which utilized proven technology derived from the Mk1 program it had additional fuel space for the propulsion system to achieve extended range. Astra Mk1 and Astra Mk2 could have provided a superior war-fighting capability for the Indian air force while working in tandem and as an alternative to the import which now IAF is seeking.
With the Indian Air Force operating 600 to 700 fighter aircraft, there will be a need for several thousand Astra missiles. With air-to-air missiles costing in the region of $2 million each, the Astra will provide major business opportunities to Indian firms.