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Air-to-air missile Astra test-fired successfully

Y. Mallikarjun

HYDERABAD: An important milestone in the pre-operational phase of Beyond-Visual-Range air-to-air missile, Astra was achieved on Saturday with the successful test-firing of the weapon system at Chandipur-on-sea, off the Orissa coast.

Astra project director S. Gollakota told The Hindu from Chandipur that the ground launch of the advanced tactical missile, having the capability to intercept fast-moving targets at supersonic speeds ( 1.2 to 1.4 Mach), was carried out just after noon.

The missile, launched from a specially-built ground launcher hit two simulated targets within 40 seconds and met all the “mission objectives.” Both the targets were hit by the same vehicle. Soon after impacting the first target in 20 seconds, the missile was manoeuvred and hit the second target in 60 seconds.

He said the indigenously-developed anti-aircraft missile covered a range of 23 km in about 80 seconds. The advanced system’s avionics hardware and software, mid-course guidance and the data link of ground-based transmitter and air-borne data link receiver were validated during the trial.

The propulsion system, navigation control and airframe were once again proved as they were validated in earlier trials. A similar test would be held on Sunday for “repeatability and confidence,” he added.

Smallest

The single-stage, smoke-less, solid propelled missile can carry a conventional warhead of 15 kg and is the smallest of the missiles developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation in terms of size and weight. The 3.8 metre-long missile has a diameter of 178 mm with an overall launch weight of 160 kg.

Mr. Gollakota said captive flight tests would be conducted early next year after a few more ground trials. Subsequently, it would be fitted to combat fighter Sukhoi-30 and test-fired. Later the missile would be integrated on board MiG-29 and Light Combat Aircraft.

Highly manoeuvrable

He said the highly manoeuvrable Astra was better than similar class of missiles and could be launched from different altitudes. It would cover a range of 100 km when launched from an altitude of 15 km, 60 km from an altitude of five km and the range would be 20 km if the altitude was still lower.

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