Why Astra Air-to-Air Missile Is Best in His Class

DefenceXP Author / 25 December 2019

Hello Defence Lovers, Astra is the very first Air-to-Air missile to be designed and developed in India.It is an all weather beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation. Astra went through a series of ground tests from 2003 till 2012 in three different configurations to validate the airframe, propulsion system, control system, dual mode guidance and night firing capability. Carriage trials were carried out in 2009 and 2013 on Sukhoi Su-30MKI. 

  • In May 2014, it was fired for the first time in air. On 18 March 2016, the missile was fired in public during Iron Fist 2016 exercise from a Sukhoi Su-30MKI.
  • During a series of seven tests in September 2017, Astra was tested twice with an indigenous seeker.During user trials in 2019, Astra managed to hit a target at a distance of 90 km (56 mi).
  • Astra completed final development trials in September 2017 and was cleared for production at Bharat Dynamics Limited's manufacturing facility in Bhanur, Telangana for an initial order of 50 missiles

Design:

  • Astra's design resembles Matra Super 530D and Vympel R-77 in a few aspects.
  • Astra is 3.6 m (12 ft) long with a diameter of 178 mm (7.0 in) and weighs 154 kg (340 lb). It uses an inertial guidance system driven by a fibre optic.

Capability:

  • Astra is designed to be capable of engaging targets at varying range and altitudes allowing for engagement of both short-range targets at a distance of 20 km and long-range targets up to a distance of 80–110 km .
  • DRDO plans to develop a Mk 2 variant of Astra with a larger engagement envelope and a range of 160 km
  • .Multiple different propulsion systems have been considered, including liquid-fuel ramjet, solid-fuel ramjet and dual pulse solid rocket motor.
  • Though Astra MK 1 has highest G-Force in missile categories (13 G). Most of missiles have 9 G to 11 G Force.

Why So Special?

  • The Astra -- designated as a 'beyond visual range air-to-air missile' or BVRAAM -- involves radically different technology challenges compared to ballistic and tactical missiles.
  • For one, a typical Astra engagement has both the launcher and the target moving at speeds in excess of 1,000 kmph.
  • Fired from a pylon on the wing of a Su-30MKI, the Astra's smokeless propellant quickly accelerates it to about 4,000 kmph.
  • The fighter tracks the target continuously on its radar, and steers the missile towards it over a data link.
  • About 15 km from the target, the Astra's on board radio seeker locks onto the target; now, it no longer needs guidance from the Su-30MKI.
  • When it reaches a few metres from the enemy fighter, the Astra warhead is detonated by a 'radio proximity fuze', spraying the target with shrapnel and shooting it down.
  • Only a handful of missile builders -- in the United States, Russia, Europe and China -- have mastered the technologies that go into air-to-air missiles. India is now joining that elite group.

Jai Hind

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