Air to Air Missile - AAM

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 15, 2022, 12:25

A missile launched from aircraft to destroy another aircraft is classified as an Air to Air Missile (AAM). AAMs are driven by several rocket motors, which are generally solid-fueled but can also be liquid-fueled.

These originated from the first world war's autonomous air-to-air rockets. This topic holds a significant weightage in the missiles of India's UPSC syllabus.

Air to Air Missile - Overview

Air to Air Missile Components:

  • An AAM's frontal section comprises a conventional explosive burst warhead, fragmentation warhead, or continuous rod warhead that is commonly employed to impair or annihilate the targeted aircraft.
  • A proximity fuze or an impact fuze is used to detonate warheads if it strikes a direct hit.
  • The propulsion system and the control actuation system (CAS) are located in the back of the missile.
  • Solid-fuel rockets with dual thrust are prevalent, although some longer-range missiles use liquid-fuel motors with throttling capability to expand the range and save fuel for energy-intensive final manoeuvres.

Types of Air to Air Missile:

Based on the missile's range parameter, the Air to Air Missile is categorized into two types:

1. Within Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (WVRAAM) or Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (SRAAM)

Such missiles cover a range of 30 kilometres and are designed to destroy flying targets. These are also referred to as heat-seeking missiles and dogfight missiles as they utilize infrared guidance due to their superior agility, respectively.

2. Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile (BVRAAM)

These are radar-guided missiles that cover a range of 37 kilometres and can attack targets beyond that. Since the infrared signatures of flying targets are very feeble at long ranges, they don't employ infrared detectors.

Air to Air Missile India

Astra, the Defence Research and Development Organisation's indigenously designed air-to-air missile, is a BVRAAM. It covers a range of 80-110 kilometres and can strike flying targets. It has been incorporated with fighter aircraft such as the Sukhoi 30 MKI, LCA, MiG-29, and Mirage 2000.

Astra has a Single Shot Kill Probability (SSKP), putting it among the most dependable weapon technologies in its category. The manufacturing and production of this all-weather missile began in 2017. It is the smallest missile developed by the DRDO in terms of size and weight.

The advancement of Air to Air Missile technology has been tremendous in recent decades. India's guided missile programme, the outcome of nearly three decades of research and development, has charted on a self-sustaining path, with Astra coming to the forefront. It has become critical to the country's envisaged minimum deterrence.

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FAQs on Air to Air Missile

Q.1. What is the objective of using an Air to Air Missile?

An air-to-air missile is launched from an aircraft with the intent of destroying another aircraft in the air.

Q.2. Which is India's indigenously developed Air to Air Missile?

Astra is the Air to Air Missile India has designed with DRDO. It's a Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile (BVRAAM).

Q.3. Which is the fastest Air to Air Missile in the world?

AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM-120 AMRAAM are the fastest missiles, with a speed of Mach 4.

Q.4. Who is called the "Missile Man" of India?

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam is known as India's Missile Man due to his contributions to the development of ballistic missiles and launch vehicle technology.