The Indian Air Force (IAF) is making significant strides towards enhancing its air defense capabilities with the impending induction of indigenous Astra Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Air-to-Air Missiles. The IAF has entered into contracts with Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) for these advanced missiles, marking a crucial step towards reducing import dependency and bolstering national security.
The first batch of Astra-MK1 missiles, developed by the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) and Research Centre Imarat (RCI) among other DRDO laboratories, is slated for induction by the end of 2023. BDL has already received Bulk Production Clearance for Astra-MK1 missiles, signifying a significant milestone in indigenous missile production.
Successful Integration and Testing:
Astra missiles have been successfully integrated onto the SU-30MKI aircraft, demonstrating their compatibility and effectiveness. In a noteworthy achievement, the missile was test-fired from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas off the coast of Goa, reaching an altitude of 20,000 ft. This successful test underscores the missile’s capabilities and readiness for operational deployment.
Development efforts are underway for the more advanced Astra-MK2, featuring longer-range capabilities. Static firing tests have been conducted, indicating progress in the development of this highly anticipated missile variant. Astra-MK2 is poised to further enhance the IAF’s aerial combat capabilities, reinforcing India’s position in the global defense arena.
Reduction of Import Dependency:
IAF officials have expressed satisfaction with Astra’s performance, emphasizing its potential to become the mainstay of the IAF’s BVR missile arsenal. By relying on indigenous production, India aims to significantly reduce import dependency, ensuring self-sufficiency in defense technologies and bolstering national security.
Financial Investment and Contract Signings:
In May 2022, the Defence Ministry signed a contract worth ₹2,971 crore with BDL for the supply of Astra MK-I missiles and associated equipment for the IAF and the Navy. This financial investment underscores the government’s commitment to strengthening the country’s defense capabilities and fostering indigenous defense production.