Government secures contract to acquire additional Astra Mk1 BVRAAMs, giving a major boost to the IAF and Navy

The Defence Ministry inked a deal with Bharat Dynamics Ltd on Tuesday for the procurement of Astra MK1 BVRAAMs (Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile) and related equipment for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy at a cost of Rs 2971 crores, providing a boost to the armed forces.

The agreement is seen as a significant step forward for Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat.’ ASTRA is a Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Air-to-Air Missile (AAM) system that can be deployed on fighter planes. The missile is designed to engage and destroy supersonic aircraft with exceptional manoeuvrability. The rocket can operate in any weather conditions, including day and night.

SU-30 Mk-I fighter aircraft can be equipped with the ASTRA Mk-I Weapon System. Off the coast of Chandipur, DRDO successfully flight tested ‘Astra’ from a Su-30 MKI platform in 2019. With advanced guidance and navigation algorithms, the Astra BVRAAM has a range of more than 100 kilometres. The missile has midcourse guidance and terminal guidance based on an RF seeker to attain pin-point accuracy in target destruction.

The ASTRA MK-I BVR AAM was developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in response to IAF requirements for Beyond Visual Range and Close Combat Engagement, minimising reliance on foreign sources. The Astra Missile is intended for use by fighter aircraft like as the SU-30, Mirage-2000, MIG-29, and LCA-Tejas. The Astra missile system is being designed to counter aerial targets like F-16 fighter jets. Static and dynamic performance of filled warheads have been successfully tested.

The aircraft was modified for armament integration by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The Astra weapon system was built with the help of more than 50 public and commercial companies. “The Technology Transfer from DRDO to BDL for the production of the ASTRA MK-I missile and its associated systems is complete, and production at BDL is underway.”

This project will serve as a springboard for the development of BDL’s infrastructure and testing facilities. For at least the next 25 years, it will also provide prospects for various MSMEs in aerospace technology. The initiative “basically represents the ethos of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ and will aid the country’s journey toward self-reliance in Air to Air Missiles,” according to a statement from the defence ministry.

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