The Indian Air Force (IAF) is planning to its integration to its entire fleet of 272 Su-30MKI fleets with indigenously developed Astra Mk1 Beyond Visual range air to air missile starting from 2022 onwards and also actively considering placing orders for the upgraded Rafael Advanced Defense Systems developed I-Derby ER (extended range) beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) with range of 100km.

Astra Mk1 and I-Derby ER both have a range of over 100km and both will compliment each other when integrated into Su-30MKI fleet after aging Russian-made Vympel R-77 (AA-12 ‘Adder’) AAMs are phased out of service due to lack of upgrades to the missile system over the years and poor shelf lives.

In an audit report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has noted that nearly half the missiles tested either did not home in on targets during evaluations or failed ground tests because they were aging much before their shelf lives. India had procured over 2000 Vympel R-77 for its Su-30 MKIs, MiG-29s, and MiG-21 Bisons fleet but plans are in the fold to replace them entirely instead of procuring more of the same missiles since Russia has failed to rectify its faults.

Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria has confirmed that Astra Mk1 is at par with AIM-120C-5 AMRAAM missiles which Pakistan Air Force (PAF) used in its failed attempts to shoot down a Sukhoi-30MKI last year and lack of firing clearance from Vympel R-77 could have contributed to this decision of arming entire Su-30MKI fleet with I-Derby ER and Astra Mk1 Medium-range air-to-air range-Missile.


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