India is developing two advanced variants of the Astra beyond visual range air to air missiles, with one of them capable of striking targets at a range of 160km when ready, and the other at almost 300km ie. Astra Mk3, senior government officials said on Friday on the condition of anonymity.
The Astra Mk2 and Mk3 missiles are likely to be tested next year and in 2024 respectively, and are among the DRDO’s key ongoing programmes. The current Astra Mk1 variant has a range of around 100km.
The defence ministry on May 31 signed a Rs 2,971 crore contract with Bharat Dynamics Limited to equip the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy with Astra Mk1 missiles and associated equipment, which was seen as a shot in the arm for self reliance in the defence manufacturing sector.
DRDO has transferred technology to BDL for the production of the Astra Mk1 and associated systems. “Future air combat will be about detecting and striking targets at the farthest possible range. It will be the outcome of increase in the detection ranges of radars and the advent of longer range missiles. It is important for India to develop missiles like Astra Mk2 and Mk3 to meet IAF’s requirements