Indian Air Force has just confirmed that two of its front-line Air superiority fighter jets have been cleared for the integration of India’s first Astra air-to-air missiles on its Mig-29UPG and Su-30MKI Fleet as IAF plans to balance slight tilt in the balance of air to air missile which went in PAF side after the acquisition of AIM-120-C5 AMRAAMs. but it’s not where things end and it has been cleared that now IAF and DRDO are in talks for development of a new array of weapons system based on Astra AAM experience that plans are in works to develop more distant cousins of the long-Range Air-To-Air Missile Family in the country.

There has been much speculation and confusion about what missile India will be developing next but whatever is out in the media does seem to suggest that the IAF is concerned that it may be close to matching, or even exceeding, the range of the latest Astra AAM variant with host of other advanced features after DRDO was able to develop a KU Band Advance Seeker locally thus replacing the Russian Agat 9B1103M active radar seeker used on RVV-AE (R-77).

Some of the planned long-range air to air missiles by India

Astra IR: DRDO has been tasked to develop an advanced focal plane array IIR seeker that gathers the target data using the aircraft sensors with resistance against infrared countermeasures. Astra IR will borrow most of the components from the Astra Mk1 program and might have curtailed range to make the IIR seeker more effective for within visual range (WVR) combat missions. Astra IR is not India’s first short-range WVR AAM but like Medium and Beyond Visual Range (BVR) AAM system with Dual variant to defeat enemy, countermeasures against two different seekers.

Astra Mk2: will use a dual pulse rocket motor borrowed from the MR-SAM program which will expand its range even further than the base Astra Mk1 to around 120-150km against different aerial targets. DRDO initially was planning to use a conventional motor to bump its range but decided to change it to dual pulse rocket motor instead since a dual pulse rocket motor contains propellant that is divided into multiple sections by an internal barrier, which will perforate as the second igniter fires to allow the propellant to exhaust through the same nozzle as the first propellant, thus increasing its range even with lesser propellent.

Astra Mk3: will be based on the Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) technology which India is developing jointly with Russia for both Air-to-Air and Surface-to-Air Missile systems. DRDO has confirmed that the range of the SFDR based very-long-range air-to-air missile, or VLRAAM likely to be called Astra Mk3 will have a range of 70-340km in the power ‘ ON’ Mode. The missile program which began in 2013 already has been tested from ground-based launchers but it is yet to be tested in its full configuration. Mk3 will have a No Escape Zone range of over 100km for a fighter-sized target and will exceed the maximum range of 200km for the same.

BrahMos-XX: DRDO is planning to modify and develop an Air Tactical Missile based on BrahMos-A to knock out Force Multipliers like Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) and Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft, Flight Refueling Aircraft (FRA) at long range while flying within its own air space. DRDO is reportedly modifying its current seeker to detect airborne threats and the idea came when BrahMos-A was under in-flight testing onboard Su-30MKI.


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