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Indian Air Force to Get Astra Mk-1 Air-to-Air Missiles by 2023 End

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to enhance its air combat capabilities, as Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) prepares to supply the indigenous Astra Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Air-to-Air Missiles (AAM) by the close of 2023, according to The Hindu.

In a deal inked in May 2022, the IAF commissioned 248 units of the Astra Mk-1 BVR missiles from BDL—200 for IAF and the remaining 48 earmarked for the Indian Navy.

Astra Mk-1 Air-to-Air Missiles

Crafted by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), these cutting-edge AAMs can engage a variety of aerial threats including enemy jets, drones, helicopters, cruise missiles, and transport aircraft, boasting a maximum range exceeding 100 kilometers when launched from high altitudes.

A significant milestone was achieved on August 23, when DRDO tested the Astra missile using the domestically-produced Tejas fighter jet near Goa’s coastline. This marked a historic moment— the maiden test of a homegrown air-to-air missile from an indigenously built fighter aircraft.

ASTRA IAF

Before this test, the Astra missile had only been integrated with the Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30 MKI jets.

The IAF’s vision includes positioning the Astra missile series as the cornerstone of its combat jet fleet, aiming for compatibility with the Mig-29, upcoming Tejas Mk-1A, and Tejas Mk-2 aircraft.

Additionally, the Astra Mk-2 BVR missile, with a formidable range surpassing 160 kilometers and equipped with a dual-pulse rocket motor, is on the horizon, promising enhanced lethality in its final engagement phase.

Development is also underway for the even more advanced Astra Mk-3 missile, which is poised to challenge the renowned Meteor BVR missile of the French Rafale fighter jet in terms of range and capability.

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