Two ballistic flight tests of Astra, Beyond-Visual-Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM), were successfully carried out from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Balasore, Orissa, on Monday.
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) officials said the first missile was fired around 9.15 a.m. and the second one at noon. Both were successful and the performance of the motor, propulsion system and the configurations of the vehicle and aero-dynamics evaluated.
The missile’s final trial is expected to be conducted by the year-end after its integration with fighter aircraft Su-30 MKI. Astra would also be carried by MiG-29 and Light Combat Aircraft Tejas.
The missile is envisaged to intercept and destroy enemy aircraft at supersonic speeds in the head-on mode at a range of 80 km and in tail-chase mode at 20 km.
Astra, which uses solid propellant, can carry a conventional warhead of 15 kg. It is the smallest of the missiles developed by the DRDO in terms of size and weight. It is 3.8-metre long and has a diameter of 178 mm with an overall launch weight of 160 kg. The missile could be launched from different altitudes -- it can cover 110 km when launched from an altitude of 15 km, 44 km when fired from an altitude of eight km and 21 km when the altitude is sea-level.
DRDO officials said it was more advanced than the similar class of missiles of the U.S., Russia and France. The missile’s captive flight tests from Su-30MKI were carried out near Pune in November last when seven sorties were conducted. Astra’s first flight trial took place on May 9, 2003.