DRDO developed, India’s first Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) Astra is soon to be tested from indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas.
LCA Tejas to test fired Astra BVR Missile in the first half of 2021. The process of integrating Astra with Tejas is started and the ‘initial ground trials’ is virtually completed.
The Times of India quoting their sources reported, “The flight trials of the indigenous missile on the indigenous will begin within the next few months”.
The software of LCA is need to be upgrade in order to integrate AAM missile with Tejas and most likely ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency) will work software part.
Currently in Beyond Visual Range, LCA is equipped with Israeli I-Derby ER Air-to-Air missile, with a maximum range of 100 KM.
Astra integration with Tejas definitely going to increase BVR capability of the aircraft as it has a maximum range of 110 KM.
Astra missile is already integrated with Indian Air Force (IAF) SU-30 MKI and planned to integrate with LCA Tejas, MiG-29 UPG/MiG-29K and Mirage 2000.
The Defence Acquisition Council approved the initial procurement of 248 missile both for Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.
DRDO is also working on 3 different variant of Air-to-Air missile. The Mark 2 variant of Astra is expected to test fired in the first half of 2021.
Mark 2 is going to have a maximum range of 160 KM and the missile will achieve this extended range with the help of dual pulse solid rocket propulsion system.
Mark 3 will use an advance Technology of solid fuel ducted ramjet (SFDR) with a maximum range of 350 KM equivalent to MBDA Meteor missile.
DRDO is also working on a Within Visual Range (WVR) or Close Combat variant of the missile named as Astra IR which will use Imaging Infrared seeker.
DRDO aims to become in Self Reliant in Air-to-Air missile section by 2024-25. Currently India use Russian, Israeli and European Air-to-Air missile for its fighter aircraft.