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The Indian-developed Astra MkII, a Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM), is nearing its final hurdle before user trials, according to internal sources at DRDO. This indigenous missile is poised to become the mainstay of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) BVRAAM arsenal.

The Astra MkII has undergone a rigorous testing process, including captive trials, separation trials, unguided dual-pulse motor trials for various ranges, and seeker trials. These tests have validated the missile’s core functionalities, paving the way for full-scale testing against target drones.

The upcoming user trials represent a critical stage in the Astra MkII’s development. Success here will lead to integration with various IAF fighter jets, including the Tejas MkIA, MkII, Su-30MKI, Rafale, and the upcoming AMCA.

The Astra MkII falls under the AIM-120D Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) class. This signifies its capability to engage enemy aircraft at extended ranges – potentially exceeding 160 kilometers against fighter-sized targets when launched from high altitudes. This extended range places the Astra MkII at par with some of the world’s most advanced BVRAAMs.

The Astra MkII’s induction into the IAF’s arsenal will be a significant leap forward for India’s air defense capabilities. This indigenous missile offers a cost-effective and strategically important alternative to relying solely on foreign-sourced weaponry. Furthermore, its integration with a variety of fighter jets enhances flexibility and operational effectiveness.

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