Advanced version of Astra air-to-air missile (Astra Mk 2): India’s top defence research organisation DRDO is working on an extended range of the indigenous beyond-visual-range (BVR) air-to-air missile Astra. The Astra Mk2 missile will enable Indian combat jets to strike enemy aircrafts at a range of 160 kilometers.
India is in the process of integrating the 110 kilometer range Astra Mk 1 missile on Indian Air Force’s MiG-29 and Light Combat Aircraft Tejas and the Indian Navy’s MiG-29K aircraft.
The Astra Mark 1 missile has already been mated with the Russian origin Sukhoi MKI jets. The Astra missile is being produced by state-owned defence giant Bharat Dynamics Limited.
Astra will be the standard long-range air-to-air missile across India’s entire fighter fleet as it will be deployed on Sukhoi 30 MKI, Mig-29, Light Combat Aircraft Tejas.
Only French fighters such as Rafale and Mirage will not use Astra missiles.
In July this year, the defence ministry formally sanctioned the purchase of 248 Astra missiles, including 48 for the Indian Navy, after a successful September 2019 trial in which it hit a target 90 km away.
Sources said Astra has export potential too, and will be considered for sale to friendly countries.
Astra Mk 2 missile range
With a range of over 110 km and a maximum speed of Mach 4.5, the Astra Mk 1 is provides a definite advantage to Indian Air Force as it gears up to prepare a possible two front war scenario involving both China and Pakistan.
DRDO is planning to complete the development of the advanced version of Astra missile in the next 18 months.