20 November 2009
An Astra BVRAAM (photo : acig)
With the Indian Air Force (IAF) conducting a captive flight trial of the indigenously developed Astra Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air missile (BVRAAM), the Defence Research & Development Organisation’s (DRDO) ambition to indigenously develop missiles for India has got yet another boost. According to Akshay Kumar of the India-based online news service 8ak (http://www.8ak.in), project director of the Astra programme S. Gollakota has said that the IAF had made available the Russian manufactured Sukhoi Su-30MKI for the trials. It has also been reported that the missile had been subjected to pressures of 7Gs at supersonic speed during the test.
The fully developed Mark–II active, radar homing Astra will lock-on and shoot down enemy aircraft about 80 kilometres away. Currently under development is a 44 kilometre range Mark-I version. The Astra, with its design altitude of 15km, has the capability to evade radar.
The missile initially will be developed to arm the front line Su-30 fighter aircraft apart from the indigenously developed LCA – Tejas.
Over the years India has developed numerous new missiles to bolster its attack and retaliatory capabilities. Earlier this year, the 700 kilometre range nuclear-capable submarine- launched ballistic missile (SLBM) Sagarika was tested. Other indigenously built missiles to be tested by India this year are the 350 kilometre range Prithvi, 3,500 kilometre range Agni 3 and the jointly Russia-India developed supersonic missile BrahMos.
These missiles are being developed under the aggressive Integrated Guided Missiles Program (IGMP) launched in 1983 by India to develop futuristic missiles technology based on hypersonic rockets to provide a potent weapon to the armed forces in order to enhance national security.
If one studies the progress of IGMP, no one will have any doubts regarding the advancement India has made over the years in development of missiles technology. The program underlines India's capability to attain self-reliance and present a deterrent from a hostile attack. However, Pakistan claims that India is lagging behind them in missile technology.