India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation has floated fresh tenders for the manufacturing of Ku band AESA Seeker for the Astra BVRAAM program. By putting an advanced electronically scanned array (AESA) radar in the nose of an Astra Mk1 missile, India will be in the elite few countries that have adapted inclusion of the next generation innovation in air-to-air warfare which will improve the detection ability of the missile by replacing present Ku-band RF Seeker.

Ku band AESA Seeker was first displayed at Aero India 2021 after completion of ground-based trials of the system thus clearing its path for production. Ku band AESA Seeker has a lock-on range of 13km for a 5m2 RCS target and can perform live target detection and tracking. Ku band AESA Seeker also has a narrow target acquisition beam with robust ECCM capability that gives the missile an improved ability to launch the missile in LOAL mode.

Astra Mk2 under development will also feature an AESA active seeker head that has a large solid-state, dual pulse motor that is intended to match up to the American AIM-120D in terms of performance with a targeted range of 150+km. For targets beyond 200 km, DRDO is working on Astra Mk3 that will be based on Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) missile propulsion system that will be used as primary armament against stand-off targets like tanker and AWACS aircraft.

It is unlikely Ku band AESA Seeker will be immediately replacing Ku-band RF Seeker in the production models of the Astra Mk1 missile, till it has been certified after completion of series of trials by the IAF.

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