IAF Masters ‘Astra Shastra’, Test Fires Missile That Puts India Into Elite Club Of NationsBeyond visual range air-to-air missile “Astra” (Defence Ministry/Twitter)

Indian Airforce has successfully test-fired its Beyond Visual Range Air-to-air Missile Astra from a Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft over Bay of Bengal, The New Indian Express has reported.

The indigenous missile is developed by DRDO and is more complex to develop than the nuclear-capable Agni series of missiles in terms of technology involved.

Defence sources told The New Indian Express that Astra carrying telemetry equipment was fired from Sukhoi-30 MKI which took off from Kalaikunda air force station. The missile, with high precision, was successful in engaging a maneuvering target.

“Astra was launched in complete Sukhoi-30 flight envelope. The missile targeted unmanned aerial vehicle Banshi and met all mission objectives,” said a defence official.

Astra, once operational, will make India a member of a coveted club of nations including Russia, France, USA and Israel that possess such missiles.

“The test was perfect in all respects. Five more tests will follow to validate that the missile is ready to be inducted into the armed forces,” the official informed.

Astra, a 3.8-metre-long single-stage, smokeless, solid fuel propelled missile can intercept fast moving aerial targets at a supersonic speed of Mach 1.2 to 1.4 and can strike up to a range of 20 km in a tail-chase and up to 80 km in head-on mode.It is one of the smallest missiles developed by DRDO, both in size and weight.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has commended the efforts of DRDO, IAF and associated team members and said that India has achieved a high level of capability in designing and developing advanced weapon systems in house.

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