The Indian Air Force (IAF) has successfully test launched the country’s first indigenously developed beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile, Astra, from a naval range in the western sector.
Launched from an IAF Sukhoi-30MKI multi-role combat fighter, the missile successfully shot down the simulated target over the sea off Goa, as reported by Business Standard.
Conducted following an extensive flight testing programme by the missile manufacturer, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and IAF, the air-launch validated only the separation of the missile from the fighter.
DRDO director-general, Deptartment of Defence R&D Secretary and Indian Defence Minister scientific advisor Avinash Chander said Astra’s successful launch from the Su30 aircraft represents a major step in missile aircraft integration, and will shortly be followed by launch against an actual target.
Chander said, "Many more trials are planned and will be conducted to clear the launch envelope.
"Weapon integration with ‘Tejas’ Light Combat Aircraft will also be done in the near future."
Project director Dr S Venugopal said the air launch marks culmination of years of effort by a dedicated and competent team of the Missile Complex, CEMILAC and IAF.
"HAL carried out the modification in Su-30 along with IAF specialists, and many Indian industries have an important and enabling role in the production of reliable avionics, propulsion system, materials, airframe and software passing stringent airworthiness requirements for the missile," Venugopal said.
Astra project has reached the final stage of testing and evaluation with the latest launch, following the successful testing of the missiles onboard a Su-30 fighter in captive mode for avionics integration and seeker evaluation in 2013.
Indigenously designed and developed by DRDO, the Astra is an all-aspect, all-weather missile with active radar terminal guidance, excellent electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) features, smokeless propulsion, and a high single shot kill probability (SSKP).
An advanced version, the Astra Mk-II with higher range capability, is currently under development and is expected to be tested by the end of 2014.
Image: Astra air-to-air missile following launch from an Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter aircraft. Photo: courtesy of DRDO.