India on Wednesday test-fired Astra, the indigenously developed beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile at Chandipur near here, hours after carrying out the first night trial of the weapon.

The sophisticated missile was fired from a launcher at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) complex, about 15 km from here, at 2.07 pm, defence sources said.

The second consecutive trial comes after the missile was test-fired for the first time for night trial in inclement weather conditions on Tuesday night. The data generated were being thoroughly examined by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientists, the sources said.

The single stage, solid-fuelled Astra is more advanced in its category than the contemporary BVR missiles and is capable of engaging and destroying highly manoeuvrable supersonic aerial targets, DRDO scientists said.

The 3.8-metre-long missile, which has a diameter of 178 mm, can carry a warhead containing explosives weighing 15 kg and can be fitted to any fighter aircraft.

It is intended for eventual integration with the IAFs Sukhoi-30 MKI, MiG-29, Mirage-2000, Jaguar and the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft, the sources said.

Describing Astra as a futuristic missile, the scientists said the weapon could intercept targets at supersonic speed (mach 1.2 to 1.4).

Before being made fully operational, the complex missile system will undergo some more trials, though tests of its navigation, control, air frame, propulsion and other sub-systems have been validated, the sources said.

Though the exact range of Wednesday’s trial was not disclosed, DRDO scientists are working to ensure Astra performs effectively at different altitudes — one cruising at an altitude of 15 km with 90 to 110 km range, another at an altitude up to 30,000 ft, having a range of 44 km and the third at sea level with a range of 25 km, the sources said.

The trials of Astra, conducted on January 11 this year from the same base, were successful.

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