New Delhi: (Defence News) The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on Thursday cleared Rs 39, 000 crore proposal to strengthen the combat capabilities of tri-services. Indian defence forces will be inducting lethal missile systems and from ground attack to air-superiority fighter jets in the coming years. The decision gave a much-needed boost to India's local manufacturing as procurement of indigenously developed Astra missile has been given a green signal. Let's take a close look at what does Astra missile mean for the strike capability of Navy & Air Force.
Astra is a beyond visual range (BVRM) air-to-air missile manufactured by country's premier Research & Development organization, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The missile holds a special place in the country's local defence manufacturing being the first-ever air-to-air missile developed by India. Astra highlights the ability of DRDO to develop a highly accurate missile in collaboration with around 50 other public and private companies.
The initial development of Astra started in the 1990s after it was revealed to the public at Aero India 1998. The project was eventually sanctioned in the year 2004 with a budget of Rs.955 crore. In the earlier days, the missile was developed to be integrated with HAL Tejas but later it was redesigned due to performance deficiencies at high altitude. The captive trials of Astra were conducted on SU-30MKI platform in 2013 and eventually completed final development trials in September 2017.
The missile has the capability to engage aerial targets at variable range from a distance of 10 km to as long as 110–160 km. The 12 ft long and 7 inch wide missile weighs 154 kg which resembles Matra Super 530, a French medium-range air-to-air missile. The pilot can lock-on to the target at a distance from 15km with the help of missile's active radar seeker that is also a homemade addition.
The Artificial Intelligence (AI) feeds autopilot and guidance software for accurate guidance and optimised trajectory. Moreover, its Electronic Counter-Counter Measures (ECCM) capability assists it to stay on course in spite of enemy Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) procedures. A smokeless solid fuel is used to propel Astra to a speed of Mach 4.7 and it can fly up to an altitude of 20km.
(Defence Watch Bureau)
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