Short Range AAMs : The Defence Research and Development Organisation recently bagged massive orders for its 110km ranged Astra Mk1 beyond visual range air to air missile and soon has plans to start developmental trials of the Astra Mk2 that will have a range of 160 to 180km in coming months with Astra Mk3 that has a range over 300km also in the pipeline, DRDO family of air to air missile will not be complete unless it also develops short ranged air to air missiles.
Three new program is in work to meet such requirements. Astra Infrared is an interim solution where the basic airframe of the Astra Mk1 will be used to equip it with an imaging infrared homing seeker to be used as an all-weather, fire and forget short and medium range missile system.
Astra IR will have a reduced range than Astra Mk1 but will also have better manoeuvrability in the terminal phase. Astra IR will be capable of lock on after launch feature, which means the missile can be fired even before the seeker acquires the target at the launch of acquisition range.
Astra IR will be DRDO’s first Indigenous offering in the short range air to air missile program. MANPAD Air to Air Missile is an air to air variant of the Man Portable Defensive Missile System, that is under development for the Indian Army and Indian Airforce requirements for the man portable air defense system.
MANPAD Air to air missile will be designed to be used by Attack Helicopters or MALE & HALE Class UAVs. MANPAD air to air missile will have a range of 5 to 7km and can be used to take out hostile drones, Unmanned Aerial Systems and helicopters. After completion of developmental trials of the Man Portable Defensive Missile System program, it will be followed by the MANPAD Air to Air missile program soon.
The Close Combat Air to Air missile system program will be a further development of the Astra IR but will have much more agility and manoeuvrability to take out combat jets and other fast moving aerial threats at a range of 30 to 45km.
The development of Desi Close Combat Missile will replace Russian R-73 Missile and will supplement Advanced Short Range Air to Air Missile and Python 5 in the fleet. Desi Close Combat Missile program has been taken up but the developmental trials might begin only after 2025.