SIGNIFICANCE OF ASTRA BEYOND-VISUAL-RANGE MISSILE AN AIR-TO-AIR MISSILE

SIGNIFICANCE OF ASTRA BEYOND-VISUAL-RANGE MISSILE AN AIR-TO-AIR MISSILE


Welcome to World Action and Reaction News…todays
news is SIGNIFICANCE OF ASTRA BEYOND-VISUAL-RANGE
MISSILE AN AIR-TO-AIR MISSILE The defence ministry last week announced the
successful development of the most challenging missile India has developed so far — the
ASTRA. Fired from a fighter aircraft travelling at
over 1,000 km an hour, the ASTRA destroys an enemy fighter 65 to 70 km away. According to the ministry, the latest round
of trials conducted off the Odisha coast on September 11 to 14 saw seven ASTRA missiles
being fired from a Sukhoi-30MKI at pilotless aircraft that were designated as targets. All seven ASTRAs hit their targets. This round of tests ‘has completed the development
phase of the (ASTRA) weapon system successfully’, stated a defence ministry release. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman congratulated
the Defence Research and Development Organisation which developed the ASTRA; Hindustan Aeronautics
Ltd, which integrated the ASTRA onto the Su-30MKI fighter; and over 50 private firms that participated
in building the missile. The ASTRA — designated as a ‘beyond visual
range air-to-air missile’ or BVRAAM — involves radically different technology challenges
compared to ballistic and tactical missiles. For one, a typical ASTRA engagement has both
the launcher and the target moving at speeds in excess of 1,000 kmph. Fired from a pylon on the wing of a Su-30MKI,
the ASTRA’s smokeless propellant quickly accelerates it to about 4,000 kmph. The fighter tracks the target continuously
on its radar, and steers the missile towards it over a data link. About 15 km from the target, the ASTRA’s on
board radio seeker locks onto the target; now, it no longer needs guidance from the
Su-30MKI. When it reaches a few metres from the enemy
fighter, the ASTRA warhead is detonated by a ‘radio proximity fuze’, spraying the target
with shrapnel and shooting it down. Only a handful of missile builders — in the
United States, Russia, Europe and China — have mastered the technologies that go into air-to-air
missiles. India is now joining that elite group. The ASTRA is fired from the Russian Vympel
launcher — a rail under a fighter aircraft’s wing from which the missile hangs. The Vympel launcher is integrated with all
four of India’s current generation fighters — the Su-30MKI, MiG-29, Mirage 2000 and the
Tejas — allowing the ASTRA to be fired from all of them. ASTRA components that have been developed
indigenously. But the missile’s seeker head is still imported. This is a key development thrust for the DRDO. On the drawing board is a longer-range ASTRA
Mark II, intended to shoot down enemy fighters up to 100 km away. With the Indian Air Force operating 600 to
700 fighter aircraft, there will be a need for several thousand ASTRA missiles. With air-to-air missiles costing in the region
of $2 million each, the ASTRA will provide major business opportunities to Indian firms.

Eugene Islam

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