After the IAF had previously made an initial order for 50 Astra Mk1 missiles in Limited production batches, the Ministry of Defence placed orders for 250 indigenously built Astra Mk1 Beyond Visual range air to air missiles for the air force and navy in 2020.
With the missile system’s production line now stable and pre-production batches operational with two squadrons of the frontline Sukhoi-30MKI fleet, the Ministry of Defence and the IAF are looking to increase the intake of Astra missiles as more Sukhoi-30MKI squadrons are made capable of firing the missile.
Following the upgrade of the missile system with the new AESA Seeker, 100 units of Astra Mk1 will be procured per year starting in 2023, with plans to enable domestically made air-to-air missiles on the Mig-29UPG next. By the end of 2023, HAL and the IAF will have cleared four more Sukhoi-30MKI squadrons to be armed with the Astra Mk1 beyond visual range missiles.
The Astra missiles will be tested from the LCA Tejas Mk1 jet, which has already passed captive flight trials, and will be tested from the aircraft soon so that they can be operationally cleared on the Tejas Mk1A jets from 2024 to 25 when deliveries begin. The Astra Mk1 will primarily replace Russian R-77 beyond visual range air to air missiles on the Sukhoi-30MKI and Mig-29UPG fleets, and will be standard beyond visual range missiles on the Tejas Mk1A and Mk2 fleets, with the Derby-I.