Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to begin trials of indigenous Astra MK2 Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Air to Air missile with a range of 160 KM in second half of this year.
“The trial for the Astra Mark would be starting in the second half of this year and we are hoping to see the missile fully developed by 2022,” government officials told ANI.
The Astra MK2 is the successor of Astra MK1 BVR missile. Where the MK1 come with a maximum range 110 KM, Astra MK2 to have a maximum range of 160 KM.
The major difference improvement in Astra MK2 over MK1 is its ability to neutralise target at much longer distance than its predecessor. MK2 is getting a extended range of 50 KM over MK1 thanks to its propulsion system – Dual Pulse Solid Rocket motor.
Where solid fuel is a cheap and easy maintenance option for any BVR missile, it has one disadvantage. Once a solid motor ignites, it keep delivering a uniform thrust until the solid rocket motor completely burns out. Which means you will not be able to throttle the thrust of missile during its flight and the missile will keep delivering the uniform thrust even when you doesn’t required.
Once the fuel burns out the momentum of the missile helps it to glides to its target at high speed, but in the longer the range the missile left out with lesser energy in the end game, resulting the adversary aircraft can easily ditch the missile attack by applying counter measures.
Astra MK2 is going to rule out this issue in longer range. The first solid motor of MK2 is going to help the missile to achieve its maximum speed. When the first solid motor burns out, the momentum of the missile will help the missile to cover its most of the distance by gliding in the air.
When the missile reach near to its target the second solid rocket motor will ignite, which means the missile is going to have ample thrust in its terminal phase to neutralise an aerial target at longer distance.
As the MK2 is going to use dual pulse motor, it will significantly improve the NEZ (No Escape Zone) over its predecessor.
The fins position of Astra MK2 is also different from MK1. In MK2 the wings of the missile are positioned slightly upwards of the missile, which will help the missile to perform maneuver in the air.
4 Sukhoi SU-30MKI of Indian Air Force is modified to carry out initial trials of Astra MK2. The development of the missile is scheduled to complete by 2022.
Most likely DRDO is going to meet deadline to complete the development of Astra MK2 as it is already mastered dual pulse solid motor in various missile platform.
In mid course the missile is going to guide by Inertial Navigation System while in terminal phase it will be guided by Active Radar homing. It can travel at a maximum speed of 4.5 mach.