India’s pursuit of the complex air-to-air missile system seems to be over as the smoke-less and fastest in its class, Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) Astra is ready for induction in the Air Force after more than 15 years in the making.
The indigenously developed all-weather and all-terrain missile, capable of detecting and killing highly manoeuvrable targets, has completed a series of pre-induction trials between September 26 and October 3.
Six rounds of the missile were test-fired over Bay of Bengal during the period. Defence sources said the missiles were fired at very long range and different altitudes. The weapons successfully engaged manoeuvring targets at medium range while multiple flights were carried out in salvo mode to engage unmanned aerial vehicles.
“All six missiles were fired from frontline fighter aircraft Sukhoi-30 MKI at fast moving manoeuvrable targets at different altitudes. A couple of missiles was also launched in salvo mode and in combat configuration. The missions were highly satisfactory,” said a defence official.
All the trials were conducted by Indian Air Force (IAF) and the sub-systems including the indigenous Radio Frequency (RF) seeker performed accurately meeting all the mission parameters and objectives.
“The state-of-the-art technologies developed under the Astra programme will be building blocks for other variants of air-to- air and surface-to-air missiles. The missile is expected to be inducted early next year. It will be the mainstay of territorial air defence in its category,” the official informed. Designed and developed by DRDO, the first ground test of the missile was conducted in May, 2003.
The maiden trial of the missile from a fighter aircraft was carried out in May, 2014. The missile was fired against an actual target in 2012 when it destroyed a British drone.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has played a role in modifying the aircraft for successful integration of the missile. More than 50 public and private industries have contributed in building the Astra weapon system.