India conducts 3rd developmental trial of Astra

Balasore: India successfully conducted the third developmental trial in four days of its indigenously developed beyond visual range air-to-air missile 'Astra' on Monday from the integrated test range at Chandipur, 15 km from here.

The trial of Astra missile test was successful. The test was carried out with a simulated target achieving all parameters and mission objectives, ITR Director MVKV Prasad told PTI.

The missile was successfully tested with an electronic target on December 21 and the next day using a real target with Pilot Less Target (PTA) Lakshya.

However, for Monday's trial a simulated target was used without PTA, a defence scientist said. The sophisticated missile was test-fired from a ground launcher in launch pad-1 of the ITR at about 12.20 pm, defence sources said.

The single stage, solid fuelled 'Astra' missile is more advanced in its category than the contemporary BVR missiles and is capable of engaging and destroying highly maneuverable supersonic aerial targets, Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) sources said.

The 3.8 metre-long-missile, which has a diametre of 178 mm with an overall launch weight of 160 kg can carry a warhead containing conventional explosives weighing 15 kg and can be fitted to any fighter aircraft.

It is intended to be eventually integrated with IAF's Sukhoi-30 MKI, MiG-29, Mirage-2000, Jaguar and the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft, the sources said.

Describing 'Astra' as a futuristic missile, DRDO scientists said the weapon could intercept the target atsupersonic speed.

"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-system have been validated," the sources said.

Scientists of the DRDO are working to ensure that '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 21 km, the sources said.