Boosting the Indian Air Force's (IAF) air-to-air capabilities, Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) is set to deliver the 'Made-in-India' Astra Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Air-to-Air Missile (AAM) to the IAF by the end of 2023, reported The Hindu.
In May 2022, the IAF placed orders for 248 Astra Mk-1 BVR missiles—200 for the IAF and 48 for the Indian Navy, from the state-owned BDL.
According to a report by The Hindu, BDL will deliver the first batch of the missiles by the end of 2023. Under the Rs 2,971 crore order, all the missiles will be delivered in six years from the date of signing the contract.
These advanced AAMs are designed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), and are capable to strike aerial targets like enemy fighter jets, drones, helicopters, cruise missiles and cargo planes at a maximum range of more than 100 kilometres, when fired from high-altitudes.
Just over a month ago, on August 23, DRDO successfully tested the Astra missile from the 'Made-in-India' Tejas fighter jet off the coast of Goa. This marked the first time an indigenous air-to-air missile was tested from an indigenously designed and developed fighter jet.
Until last month's test, the Astra missile was only integrated with the Russian Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighter jets.
The IAF plans to make the Astra series of missiles the mainstay of its offensive fighter fleet, with integration planned on the Mig-29, future Tejas Mk-1A and Tejas Mk-2 fighter jets.
Additionally, development efforts are currently underway for a more advanced and longer-range Astra Mk-2 missile, with static firing tests already conducted.
The Astra Mk-2 BVR missile is expected to strike targets from a range of more than 160 kilometers and will be equipped with a dual-pulse rocket motor, making the missile extremely lethal in its terminal phase.
Last year, (October 4), ahead of the IAF's 90th anniversary, a promotional video released by IAF displayed a dummy-ejection test of the Astra Mk-2 missile from a Su-30 MKI fighter jet.
Another more advanced and longer-range missile — Astra Mk-3 is under development, as well.
This missile will be using solid-fueled ducted ramjet (SFDR) engine giving the missile a maximum strike of range of more than 300 kilometres.
The Astra Mk-3 missile will rival the French-made Rafale fighter jet's primary long-range Meteor BVR missile.
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