Ravi Sharma

BANGALORE: In what is perceived to be a significant boost to India’s air dominance, the indigenously designed and developed Astra beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) is to be test-fired from the Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) most lethal airborne platform, the Su-30MKI long-range multi-role fighter.

Part of India’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme that was developed by a team of defence laboratories led by the Hyderabad-based Defence Research and Development Laboratory, the Astra BVRAAM has the ability to evade radar and hit targets up to a range of 80 km. Astra was successfully test fired first in May 2003 from the Chandipur (Orissa) Interim Test Range (ITR). The IAF’s Bangalore-based Software Development Institute (SDI) has received the indigenously manufactured Su-30MKI systems integration rig which will simulate the aircraft’s equipment hardware and software. The SDI will implement requisite changes to the rig’s software and integrate it with the hardware. They will then test the Astra missile using the systems integration rig. The on ground simulated tests are expected to be over by December.

Once simulated tests are successful the integration of the Astra on to the Su-30MKI’s wing will be undertaken at the Bangalore located Aircraft Systems and Testing Establishment (ASTE). The IAF will attach a Su-30MKI to the ASTE for this purpose.

Sources told The Hindu that initially the aircraft will only undertake dummy or carrier trials, carrying a missile which has not been electrically or electronically ‘connected’ to the on-board systems. Once successful the missile will be “connected” to the aircraft’s on-board systems and test-fired at the ITR range.