'Astra' test-fired successfully
Balasore (Orissa) (PTI): India's indigenously developed, beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile 'Astra' was on Saturday successfully test-fired from the integrated test range (ITR) at Chandipur in Orissa.
The missile was test-fired from a launcher in the launch pad number 2 of the ITR complex at about 1205 hours. After data analysis of the flight test, another test may be conducted in the next couple of days if needed, defence sources said.
"Before being made full operational, the complex missile system would undergo some more trials, though test on its navigation, control, air frame, propulsion and other sub-system have been validated," said a source from the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) at ITR.
The single stage, solid fuelled 'Astra' missile "is more advanced in its category than the contemporary BVR missiles and it is capable of engaging and destroying highly manoeuvrable supersonic aerial targets," the source added.
Describing 'Astra' as futuristic missile, DRDO scientists said the weapon could intercept the target at supersonic speeds (mach 1.2 to 1.4).
Though the exact range of today's trial has not been disclosed, scientists 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 altitude with a range of 30 km.
The last two experimental flight tests of 'Astra' were conducted from the ITR launch complex at Chandipur on March 25 and 26 last year to study the ballistic performance and control of the missile at a low altitude and shorter range, the sources said.
The missile is 3.6 meters long, 7 inches in diameter and has launch weight of about 154 kg, thus it is the smallest weapon of the DRDO's guided missile development programme in terms of size and weight. It is capable of carrying 15 kg war head.
Initially planned to arm Jaguar, MIG-29 and indigenous light combat aircraft, Tejas, DRDO officials are now concentrating that after user's trial, the sleek missile would be integrated with Indian Air Force's front line fighter aircraft like Sukhoi-30 MKIs and Mirage-2000.
'Aastra' missile project is guided and led by the Hyderabad-based Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) under the DRDO.
The prototype of the missile was first tested between May 9 and 12, 2003 from the ITR at Chandipur.