First indigenously developed air-to-air missile Astra successfully test fired on 4 May 2014 from a Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jet over the Arabian Sea off Goa. Astra is India's first Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Air-to-Air missile. It was designed and developed indigenously by the DRDO.
India becomes the fifth country to have BVR missile. Only a few countries like the US, Russia, France and Israel have managed to develop BVR missiles till now.
The 60-km plus range missile possesses high Single Shot Kill Probability (SSKP) which makes it highly reliable.
Astra is an all-weather missile with active radar terminal guidance. Astra is a highly advanced state of the art missile with excellent ECCM (electronic counter-counter measures) features, smokeless propulsion and process improved effectiveness in multi-target scenario.
The project was first sanctioned in March 2004 at an initial cost of 955 crore rupees.
While Astra is designed to take care of enemy aircraft, BrahMos will give surgical land-strike capability against hostile targets. India is slated to begin testing the 290-km supersonic BrahMos cruise missile from the heavy-duty Sukhoi-30MKIs by the end of 2014.
Once fully operational, Astra will be much cheaper than contemporary BVR missiles.
DRDO is now confident it will be able to meet the revised project completion date of December 2016. Astra is to initially have a 44-km range with high single-shot kill probability.
The current version of the Astra will be followed by a longer-range Astra Mark II, which can be launched at enemy fighters 80 km away. The Mark II, which will have a state-of-the-art ring-laser gyro, is expected to be flight tested at the end of 2014.
Key components of the Astra missile–
The air launcher, a rail on which the missile hangs and from which it is launched, is a Russian Vympel launcher that is being built in India. It will allow the Astra to be fired from all four of India's current generation fighters - the Su-30MKI, MiG-29, Mirage 2000 and the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft.
Moreover, the missile includes the data link between aircraft and missile, its on-board computer, inertial navigation system, the radio proximity fuse and the fibre-optic gyroscope. The seeker head was imported. A seeker is being developed, but will take a decade to be usable.
Where: over the Arabian Sea off Goa
What: successfully test fired
When: 4 May 2014