Following the news that the Indian Ministry of Defence signed a contract with Bharat Dynamics Limited to procure Astra Mk1 Air to Air Missile. The Astra Mk1 Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile is expected to complement the Russian R-77, R27, and Israeli Derby BVR missile in service with the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy.
The missile has already been integrated with the frontline Sukhoi-30MKI and MiG-29K multirole combat aircraft of the IAF and Navy. The integration with Tejas Light Combat Aircraft is in process and is anticipated to be completed within the next few years.
The successful adoption of the Astra Mk1 missile will also act as an impetus for the indigenous development of future variants of the missile powered by a dual pulse solid rocket motor and the Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet engine. These upgraded variants of the missile are under development for the Tejas Mk2, TEDBF, and AMCA.
The decision for procurement of the indigenously developed missile is in line with the government’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat policy, which intends to reduce reliance on defence imports and focus on developing a robust domestic defense industry ecosystem to cater to the military’s requirements.
DRDO has transferred the technology to BDL for the missiles serial production. Being India’s first indigenous BVR air to air missile program, the Astra project has led to advances of India’s R&D, manufacturing and related testing facilities. The program will also provide opportunities for numerous micro, small and medium enterprises in the aerospace sector over the next decade.