Astra – translating to Weapons are set to become the backbone of Indian Air Force’ fighter jets. India’s indigenous fighter jet, LCA Tejas will now be equipped with advanced Astra air to air missile developed by the DRDO.
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According to experts will be a great boost to IAF’s strike capabilities and will encourage it to seek an increase in squadron strength. Astra, developed by DRDO has already been successfully integrated in Sukhoi-30 MKI jets and will soon be tested with LCA Tejas.
Astra to replace Russian R-73 missiles
Astra is a beyond visual range air to air missile which offers a maximum range of 110 kilometres and is expected to replace Russian R-73 missiles which have a range of 40 km.
Congratulations !!! Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter aircraft of Indian Air Force successfully test-fired the indigenous Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Astra missile with a range of over 70 kilometers, 16 Sep 19.https://t.co/SFA6DqKGZO pic.twitter.com/UKDdCvf2lR
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) September 17, 2019
The Astra missiles weighing 154 kg travel at more than four times the speed of sound at Mach 4.5 giving almost negligible chances to enemy aircraft for escape. The maximum speed of most aircraft is Mach 2.5 even with afterburners.
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It took 15 years of determination and diligence by DRDO to develop the state of the art missile from scratch. DRDO and the Indian Air Force have successfully conducted five tests of Astra missiles on Sukhoi fighters at Chandipur centre range in Orissa.
India is only the fifth nation after the US, France, Russia and Israel to have successfully integrated long-range BVRAAMs on fighter jets. DRDO is looking forward to initially order at least 200 missiles for Su-30MKI jets.
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Simultaneously the DRDO is also working on developing the next version of Astra missiles which will offer an enhanced range of 160 kilometres. The need to induct Astra missiles was realised after F16 fighter jets of Pakistan Air Force intruded Indian Air Space in February in retaliation to Balakot airstrikes conducted by the Indian Air Force.