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People familiar with the program told that India is poised to take a significant leap in air defence capabilities with the upcoming inflight trials of the Astra Mk3 air-to-air missile, according to informed sources. These trials are expected to begin later this year or early next year.

The news comes on the heels of the Indian Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) year-end review in 2023, which highlighted the Defence Research and Development Organization’s (DRDO) impressive progress in air-to-air missile technology. While details remain classified, the review mentioned the successful testing of a cutting-edge air-to-air missile powered by a revolutionary “Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR)” propulsion system. This successful 2022 flight test of the SFDR booster paved the way for further advancements.

The Astra Mk3 program centres on developing a new long-range air-to-air missile with a formidable range of 350 kilometres. This extended reach positions it to rival the European Meteor missile, a highly respected beyond-visual-range weapon system. The Astra Mk3 is envisioned as a game-changer, capable of neutralizing airborne threats like Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) and aerial tankers, substantially strengthening India’s air defence capabilities.

These inflight trials mark a crucial step in the development of the Astra Mk3. The success of these trials will bring India closer to deploying a next-generation air-to-air missile, solidifying its position as a major force in aerospace technology.

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