The Astra Missile is an indigenously designed Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile with unparalleled capability, range, and precision. It is touted as the Future of Aerial Combat. The need for Astra Missile or BVR missile was felt on 27th February 2019, when Indian Su-30MKI were the target of several Advanced Medium Range Air To Air Missile (AMRAAM) hurled by Pakistani F-16s. Fortunately, the Indian Sukhois were unharmed, thanks to Sukhoi’s exceptional manoeuvrability and super powerful Israeli Jammers.
This prompted the Indian government to revamp their missiles with BVR since the enemy forces were using BVR missiles, and the Russian made R-77 on Su-30 MKIs were clearly inferior. This paved the way for the Astra Missile, India’s first indigenous BVR missile with extraordinary range and operability.
Astra Missile Development
Beyond Visual Range missiles, such as Astra, are considered one of the fastest and the best missiles. Work on Astra Missiles began in 1990 under the inspection of HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) TEJAS. But, the missile was first revealed to the public in 1998 at the Aero India event.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has planned four types or variants of Astra Missile - Astra MK-1, MK-2, MK-3, and Astra IR. While Astra MK-1, MK-2, and MK-3 Missiles are BVR missiles, Astra IR is the Infrared version.
Astra MK-1 was first tested in 2003. When it was first tested, the weight of the Astra Missile was 300 kg, and the range was 25-40 KM.
After successful testing of the Astra Missile, the Indian government sanctioned INR 955 crores for the Astra Missile project in 2004. The Missile development was planned, monitored, and executed by three organisations - DRDO, HAL, and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL).
The Astra Missiles you see today are quite different from the first version. The missile was redesigned in 2006 because of some control and performance issues at high altitudes. The redesigned Astra Missile was tested in 2008. The missile was again redesigned in 2013. After the second redesign, the missile’s weight was reduced by 130 kg. The Astra Missile’s final development trial was completed in September 2017.
Top Features and Specifications of the Astra Missile Range
Astra MK 1 Missile
- Integrated with Sukhoi-30 MKIs
- Medium range BVR missile
- Guided by - Inertial Navigation System Active Radar Homing System
- Astra MK-1 Missile range is 110KM. While the Head range is 80KM, the Chase Range is 20KM.
- Top Speed - 4.5 Mach 5,555+ Km/h
- Motor - Smokeless Single Solid Rocket Motor
- Weight - 154 kg
- Payload Capacity - 15 kg
Astra MK 2 Missile
- Motor - Dual Pulse Solid Rocket Motor
- Will be tested on SU-30 MKIs in 2022
- The range of the Astra MK-2 missile is 160-180 KM
Astra MK 3 Missile
- Motor - Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet
- Similar to MBDA Meteor Missile
- DRDO will manufacture the Booster while Ramjet Engine will be designed with the help of Russia
- Range - 350 KM. No Escape Zone - 100 KM.
- Diameter - Below 200mm
- 2 tests have been conducted so far - first on 30th May 2018 and the second on 8th February 2019.
The Astra Missile has taken India’s defence system to new heights. Being one of the fastest missiles in the world, the Astra missile offers an extraordinary range and exceptional precision.
FAQ on Astra Missile
Q.1) What is the Astra Missile?
Astra Missile is an indigenously designed Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile with unparalleled capability, range, and precision.
Q.2) When was the Astra Missile first revealed?
The Astra missile was first revealed to the public in 1998 at the Aero India event.
Q.3) What are the variants of the Astra Missile?
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has planned four types or variants of Astra Missile - Astra MK-1, MK-2, MK-3, and Astra IR.
Q.4) When was Astra Missile MK-1 first tested?
Astra MK-1 was first tested in 2003.