India’s first Indigenous developed Beyond Visual range air to air missile Astra equipped with an imaging infra-red homing seeker instead of an active radar homing might be ready in 2021 to carry out Captive flight trials onboard Su-30MKI jets that have been deputed and modified to be used as Testbed for all upcoming Astra BVRAAM tests, including that of Astra Mk2 said well-informed sources close to

Astra-IR will sport a new sapphire dome due to its infra-red homing seeker that has been developed and the prototype of the missile will be assembled soon. In captive flight trials planned to be conducted in 2021, a new radome will be tested to see any interference with the infra-red homing seeker, and once cleared it will progress to testing the seeker itself.

Infra-red on the missile can be activated and can perform independent scans without any guidance from the fire control radar of the aircraft. In Captive trials, Astra-IR Seeker will be activated in the search mode to test the efficiency of the seeker in the detection of the hostile targets in the near vicinity. Based on the data collected further improvements might be planned to optimize its search range and improve its accuracy. can’t confirm if actual test firing of the Astra-IR will take place in 2021 itself, but since most of the components are from Astra-RF that has been tested numerous times already and even the IR sensor is adapted from another missile system, so this project will be a quick turnaround project that will boost India’s air to air missile arsenal. IR version will also offer locked on target before launch or lock-on after launch capabilities.

Astra-IR is not be a replacement of the existing Close Combat Missile (CCM) but in testing, it was found that Astra-RF showcased potent short-range capabilities that could have benefited if it was equipped with a cheaper infra-red homing seeker. DRDO’s do have plans to develop a short-medium ranged dedicated CCM in near future but then Astra-IR and Astra-RF will play the role of the Medium and Short-range AAMs.

Astra-IR will have a range of 0.5Km to 40-50km.

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