The Indian Ministry of Defence announced 23 August that the Indian Air Force (IAF) had received delivery of all Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mk 1 fighter variants, and had used the jets to complete a successful test fire of the Astra Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVR-AAM).

The test launch was completed off the coast of Goa on 23 August, with a release of the missile carried out at an altitude of 20,000ft. The Astra is a BVR-AAM developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Laboratory and Research Centre Imarat with the aim of affecting highly manoeuvrable supersonic targets. 

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The announcement of the delivery of the LCA fleet came about during a review of the LCA programme by Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari

The Indian Ministry of Defence review also stated that a further 83 LCA Mk 1-A aircraft were to be inducted into a newly raised squadron early next year.

The Tejas LCA fighter jet is a supersonic combat fighter manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), that first entered service in the IAF in 2016.

As well as a a 23mm twin barrelled Gah-23 gun, it has eight external hard points that can be armed with air-to-air, air-to-ground and anti-ship missiles, precisions guided munitions, rockets, and bombs. 

The Astra BVR-AAM, also designed by HAL, first completed its development trials in 2018. The 3.8m-long weapon system features high single-shot kill probability and is capable of operating under adverse weather conditions.

With a diameter of 178mm, the missile has an overall launch weight of 160kg. The airborne launcher can be used with a wide range of fighter aircraft.

Astra was manufactured and integrated on to the Russia-built Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jet and other aircraft platforms by the Defence Research and Development Organisation, with the active participation of the IAF.