SOURCE: MAHESHA M / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Astra Mk1 with Active RF seeker has moved from the developmental stage to the production stage after both IAF and Navy agreed to procure 248 missiles along with 50 which were ordered first a new milestone for the homegrown Beyond Visual range air to air missile technology in the country. While the country waits for DRDO to hold on to its promise and deliver even a longer range Astra Mk2, it has now come in a foray that the DRDO is also working on Astra Passive imaging IR seeker variant which might be ready much before Astra Mk2.
IR guidance has long been the predominant mode for the short-range AAMs, with radar guidance preferred for longer-range weapons. Astra IR along with Astra RF this means that fighter jets will be able the option of ripple-firing two missiles one radar-guided and the other IR at the same target to sharpen the defensive challenge for the target aircraft. Since IR seekers are passive and do not emit signals, like active radar seekers there is a reduced chance of detection by the target aircraft’s defensive aid suite.
Astra IR will complement Astra RF for medium and extended-range air-to-air engagement and a combination of both active radar and IR is more difficult to defeat through countermeasures since Pilot will be overwhelmed trying to deploy two levels of countermeasures to defeat Astra IR and Astra RF which were fired together.
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