The Indian Air Force (IAF) wants the indigenous Astra missiles as its standard long-range weapon for its Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). This will promote integration of indigenous technology on board LCA as well as other platforms, reports The Economic Times.
The LCA will not carry the French Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) which will be outfitted with the Rafale fighter jets. However, the French were also not interested in integrating their weapons system with Israeli-origin radar.
“We are not even looking at the French option. We want to promote the indigenous system and have it equipped across all our platforms. The Astra development programme has been satisfactory,” a top official said.
After extensive testing of Astra missile, IAF and the Defence Research And Development Organisation (DRDO) on 17 September 2019 carried out successful user trials of the Astra Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile.
A live aerial target was engaged accurately demonstrating the capability of India’s first indigenously developed air-to-air missile. Various radars, Electro-Optical Tracking Systems (EOTS) and sensors tracked the missile and confirmed its engagement with the target.
IAF also plans to induct Astra missile into the Su30MKI fighter jets from which it has been tested and it will also be integrated on other foreign-origin combat aircraft.
As user trials for Astra have been completed the next step will be production order for the missile system and integration tests are being carried out as part of weapons package for 83 of the Mk1A version.
“Astra initially had some technological challenges, which have been overcome successfully. With our persistent effort and with active IAF support, all the user evaluation has been completed and Astra is now ready for induction,” DRDO chief G Sateesh Reddy had told ET.
With a range of 75-100 km, Astra is a major addition to the Indian arsenal and paves the way for future air-to-air missile development within India. The range puts it at par with the French Mica BVR missiles but falls short of the Meteor with 150 km range.
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