Officials stated Tuesday that the government has placed an order for a Rs 3,000 crore for The Astra Mk1 missile that will be built and made in India, a significant boost to the country’s defense manufacturing capacity.
The Astra Mk1, an air-to-air missile with a range beyond visual range (BVR), was designed by DRDO and manufactured by Bharat Dynamics Limited in Hyderabad. India now imports comparable missiles from Israel, Russia, and other countries.
Astra Mk1 was developed “based on the staff needs issued by the Indian Air Force catering for beyond visual range and close combat engagement, minimizing the dependency on foreign sources,” according to a Defense Ministry statement released Tuesday.
Astra Mk1 was conceived and built “based on the staff needs issued by the Indian Air Force catering for beyond visual range and close combat engagement, minimizing the dependency on foreign sources,” according to a Defense Ministry statement released Tuesday.
The Rs 2,971 crore Astra Mk1 deal will be completed in six years. DRDO has finalized the technology transfer for the missile and accompanying equipment to BDL, that production has already begun.
According to BDL chairman and managing director Commodore Siddharth Mishra (Retd), India will also provide this missile to friendly neighbor countries. The Astra Mk 1 has a range of around 110 km and a flight ceiling of 20 km powered by the solid propellant rocket engine.
According to the statement, successful trials of the missile integrated on the Su 30 MK-I fighter aircraft were undertaken, and Astra Mk1 would be combined with additional fighter aircraft, including Tejas, in a stepwise way.
The missile will also be installed aboard the Navy’s MiG 29K fighter jets, part of the INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier fleet.
What are the features and capabilities of Astra MK-1?
The missile was conceived and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to be used on fighter jets such as the Indian Air Force’s Sukhoi-30 MKI and Tejas and the Navy’s Mig-29K.
BVR ( Beyond Visual Range) missiles have the ability to engage beyond the range of 20 nautical miles (37km). AAMs (Air to Air Missiles) were tested to hit the airborne target from an airborne asset, and it was successful.
As per the DRDO, the Astra project was launched in the 2000s with specific parameters and proposed future variants. MK-1 version was completed in 2017.
Integrated with Sukhoi-30 MKIs, many successful tests have been completed since 2017. some of these variants are as follows.
MK-1 version – complete with a range of 110 km.
MK-2 version- under development with a range of 150 km.
MK-3 version- being developed with a more extended range
There is another version of Astra Mk 1 in development with IR, estimated range approx 80 km.
What is the Contract Say?
The Astra systems were built with the help of more than 50 private and public companies, including the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The purchase will be made under the Buy (Indian-IDDM) category of defense acquisition, which requires an Indian vendor to provide items that are “indigenously designed, developed, and manufactured” with a minimum of 50% indigenous content computed on the basis of the overall contract value.
According to the Ministry, the technology to produce missiles of this type in-house was not available until recently. The technological transfer from DRDO to BDL for the production of the Astra Mk-1 missile and all accompanying systems has been completed, and production has already begun at BDL.
According to the Ministry, the project will provide chances for at least 25 years for various MSMEs in aeronautical technology. “The initiative essentially represents the ethos of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and will assist in realizing our country’s journey towards self-reliance in Air to Air Missiles,” the Ministry of Defence stated.
What is the Strategic significance of MK-1:
Astra, according to the Ministry of Defense, is technologically and economically superior to many other foreign missile systems. The missile can achieve speeds of more than four times the speed of sound and a maximum height of 20 kilometers, making it exceptionally versatile for air combat.
The missile was developed in response to IAF requirements for BVR as well as close-combat engagement, minimizing reliance on foreign supplies. Large stand-off ranges are provided by AAMs with BVR capability to possess fighter aircraft, allowing them to neutralize opposing airborne assets without exposing themselves to adversary air defense measures. The missile is launched at a sufficient distance from the target to allow the assaulting side to avoid defense fire from the target.
Astra MK-1 is a huge success for the Indian armed forces. It will surely boost morale. It will bring more power to the Indian air force and the navy.