What could come as a major boost to the Indian Air Force and it’s Sukhoi-Su30MKI fleet, IAF is set to receive the first batch of Astra Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVR-AAM) from India’s state-owned missile maker Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) by end of this year, informed reliable industrial sources close to BDL last year received pre-induction orders for 50 Astra BVR-AAMs and with the help of 50 private and public sector industries involved in development and production of the different subsystems of the Air-to-Air missile, BDL is confident to start deliveries of the first batch by end of 2019.

DRDO along with IAF concluded nearly 13 rounds of trials in 2017-18 in multi-target engagements at different altitudes and combat scenarios before Astra BVR-AAM was cleared by the IAF for pre-production. DRDO had described trials as a combination of complex tests for engagement of unmanned targets in different modes of maneuvering, off-bore sight, at medium and long ranges. The missiles were telemeter-ed for evaluation of the online performance of all sub-systems, especially the data-link, RF seeker and proximity fuse for end-game performance.

The first batch of 50 Astra BVR-AAM will be used by IAF to debug any pre-production hiccups in the weapon system and to also allow pilots to better understand its operational performance so that they can be used effectively in multiple combat scenarios. Once they are cleared by IAF, BDL and DRDO expect at least minimum bulk order of nearly 500 Astra BVR-AAMs in batches to arm all Sukhoi-Su30MKI fleet, along with Mirage-2000 and LCA-Tejas variants.

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