From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Astra AAM
Mains level : India's missile arsenal
The Ministry of Defence has signed a contract with Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) for the supply of the Astra Mark-1for deployment on fighter jets of the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.
- The Astra Mk-1 is a beyond visual range (BVR), air-to-air missile (AAM).
- The Astra project was officially launched in the early 2000s with defined parameters and proposed future variants.
- The missile has been designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
- It will be deployed on fighter jets like Sukhoi-30 MKI and Tejas of the IAF and the Mig-29K of the Navy.
- BVM missiles are capable of engaging beyond the range of 20 nautical miles or 37 kilometres.
Range and its Variants
- While the range for Astra Mk-1 is around 110 km, the Mk-2 with a range over 150 km is under development and Mk-3 version with a longer range is being envisaged.
- One more version of Astra, with a range smaller than Mk-1 is also under development.
- The missile has been designed based on requirements specified by the IAF for BVR as well as close-combat engagement, reducing the dependency on foreign sources.
- AAMs with BVR capability provides large stand-off ranges to own fighter aircraft.
- It can neutralise adversary airborne assets without exposing adversary air defence measures.
- Stand-off range means the missile is launched at a distance sufficient to allow the attacking side to evade defensive fire from the target.
- Astra is technologically and economically superior to many such imported missile
- The missile can travel at speeds more than four times that of sound and can reach a maximum altitude of 20 km, making it extremely flexible for air combat.