SOURCE: ABHOY ROY / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
According to the latest media reports. DRDO developed Astra beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile, which has successfully completed its developmental trials and has entered batch production for the Indian air force will be used to develop a new ship-borne short-range anti-aircraft and anti-missile weapon system for the Indian Navy.
Under Short Range Surface to Air Missiles (SR-SAMs) program for the Navy, DRDO will supply 10 systems which will replace Israeli supplied Barak-1 Point air defense system in leading frontline warships of India. While four similar system will be brought from abroad to meet immediate requirements, DRDO has been told to develop a similar local system and complete the program by 2022.
DRDO weighted using an already established missile system to develop a new ship-based air defense system so that it can fasten its development. Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QR-SAM) and Astra BVRAAM were both considered but later was selected due to smaller compact size which can be adapted to warships of different sizes and also due to lower weight which when in warzone can be reloaded only by 3 sailors and light machinery without need for heavy machinery and its ability to store additional missiles in the warships if required.
Astra missiles when in its initial developmental phase were tested from a ground-based vertical launch before developmental moved on to IAF’s front-line fighter aircraft like Sukhoi-30 MKIs. DRDO keeping in mind possible development of any spin-off of a Ground-based Astra missile system had collected all telemetry data which could also validate its flight performance in the surface to air mode and found it to be capable of performing excellently well even in a surface to air mode.
Astra Mk-I in its Air to Air Variant can hit fast maneuvering target up to 75kms away and recently got an indigenous seeker which possess high Single Shot Kill Probability (SSKP), making it a very reliable missile. Sea Astra variant will require an upgraded and modified seeker since primary intend of such ship-borne missile system is the defense against evasive sub-sonic anti-ship missiles sometimes at close range.
Sea Astra will have a range of 20-25 km and will also be tasked to perform anti-aircraft and anti-missile weapon system roles and will work in tandem with 70 km long-range surface-to-air missile system (LRSAM) to provide which will provide 360 degrees complete aerial defense against all airborne threat including aircraft, helicopters and anti-ship missiles.