Astra air-to-air missile

Syllabus: Defence Technology

Context

An Astra indigenous beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile was successfully test-fired from the light combat aircraft (LCA), Tejas, off the coast of Goa.

ASTRA

  • The ASTRA (Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile) is an indigenously developed beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India.
  • It is a fire-and-forget missile, which means that it does not require the launching aircraft to keep track of the target after the missile has been fired.
  • The ASTRA has a range of 80-110 kilometers and can fly at speeds of up to Mach 4.5.
  • It is equipped with a radar seeker and can engage targets in both head-on and tail-chase modes.
  • The missile is also equipped with an electronic countermeasure (ECM) suite to protect it from enemy radars.

The ASTRA has been successfully test-fired from various fighter jets, including the Sukhoi Su-30MKI, the HAL Tejas, and the MiG-29. It is currently being inducted into the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy.

The ASTRA is a significant milestone in India’s quest for self-reliance in defence. It is the first indigenously developed BVRAAM and will give the Indian Air Force a much-needed edge in air combat.

The HAL Tejas (Light Combat Aircraft)

  • It is an Indian single-engine, delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
  • It is designed to replace the Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) aging MiG-21 fleet.
  • The Tejas has a maximum speed of Mach 1.6 (1,910 km/h) and a range of 3,000 kilometers.
  • It is armed with a variety of weapons, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, and bombs.
  • It has a number of advanced features, including a fly-by-wire flight control system, an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, and an infra-red search and track (IRST)
  • The Tejas is a significant step forward for India’s aerospace industry. It is the first indigenously developed fighter aircraft to enter production and is expected to play a major role in the IAF for many years to come

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