For the second day in a row, India conducted a successful ballistic flight test of indigenously developed Astra — beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile — from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur on Saturday.
“The missile was test-fired at 1032 hrs and the trial was successful,” Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) sources said.
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.
“Before the sophisticated anti air-craft missile would be integrated with fighter aircraft like Su-30 MKI, MiG-29 and Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, it would undergo some rigorous and flawless tests both from ground and fighter jets,” said a scientist associated with the project.
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 2009 when seven sorties were conducted.
Astra’s first flight trial took place on May 9, 2003 from the ITR at Chandipur.