Astra Mk1 can only achieve an operational range of up to 60 kilometers and is too bulky. The Air Force wants the missiles weight reduced by 50 kilograms, this claim was made by an unnamed air force official in a report filed by DefenseNews.com, after India’s Defence Ministry contracted to state run Bharat Dynamics Limited to supply locally developed Astra MK1 air to air missiles.
This claim has rattled the Indian defense community and many wondered if it was a planted hitjob against the missile system has it ended the country’s dependence on foreign beyond visual range weapons in long term.
Many pointed out inaccuracies in the article where it claimed that the missile which weight 154kg (as per Brochure) and 160kg as per the article, needs a 50kg weight reduction which could mean 33% more weight reduction.
Many pointed out that there isn’t a single beyond visual range air to air missile in production that weighs 110kg and can also hit targets over 100km. Contemporary missiles in Astra MK1 class like AIM-120C-5 weights 150.7kg, R-77 is 175kg, and PL-12 weights 180kg are in the same weight class or are heavier than Astra Mk1.
Many are also questioning the 60km claimed range in the article, since DRDO itself had confirmed that Astra Mk1 was fired from a Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jet and took down a Banshee target drone at a range of 87km in the head on mode which is quite a remarkable achievement for the missile system since the target size is small and will have very small radar cross section.