Astra Mk-1 Missile: India’s ministry of defence Tuesday signed a deal with the state owned defence company Bharat Dynamics Limited for supply of locally designed and developed Astra Mark I beyond visual range air-to-air missiles for the fighter jets of Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.
The Rs 2,971 crore deal ($382 million), which also includes supply of associated equipments for Indian Navy and Indian Air Force, is expected to give a big boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of promoting local defence manufacturing.
Deal under Buy (Indian-IDDM) Category
As per India’s defence procurement rules, the MoD’s deal with the Bharat Dynamics Limited falls under the Buy (Indian-IDDM) category, which refers to the procurement of products from an Indian vendor that have been indigenously designed, developed and manufactured with a minimum of 50% Indigenous Content (IC) on cost basis of the total contract value.
The defence ministry said until now, the technology to manufacture missile of this class indigenously was not available in the country.
Officials said ASTRA MK-I BVR air-to-air missile, which has been indigenously designed & developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), is based on the Staff Requirements issued by the Indian Air Force (IAF) catering for beyond visual range as well as close combat engagement reducing the dependency on foreign sources.
“Air to Air missile with beyond visual range (BVR) capability provides large Stand Off Ranges to own fighter aircraft which can neutralise the adversary aircraft without exposing itself to adversary Air Defence measures, thereby gaining and sustaining superiority of the Air Space,” the MoD said in a statement.
The government said the missile was technologically and economically superior to many such imported missile systems.
Astra Mk-2 air-to-air missile
ASTRA MK-I missile and all associated systems for its launch, ground handling & testing has been developed by DRDO in coordination with the IAF.
The missile, for which successful trials have already been undertaken by the Indian Air Force, is fully integrated on the Sukhoi 30 MK-I fighter aircraft of Russian origin. Astra Mk-1 will also be integrated with other fighter aircraft in a phased manner, including India’s locally designed and developed Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas) which is manufactured by state owned aircraft and helicopter manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The Indian Navy will integrate the missile on the MiG 29K fighter aircraft.
The Transfer of Technology from DRDO to BDL for production of ASTRA MK-I missile and all associated systems has already been completed and production at BDL is in progress.
The government said this project would act as a catalyst for development of Infrastructure and Testing facilities at BDL. It will also create opportunities for several MSMEs in aerospace technology for a period of at least 25 years.
“The project essentially embodies the spirit of a self-reliant India in defence (Aatmanirbhar Bharat) and will help facilitate the country’s journey towards self-reliance in air-to-air missiles,” said the ministry.