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The Indian Air Force’s next-generation Astra Mark II air-to-air missile is reportedly nearing a crucial phase in its development. According to media reports, developmental trials in full configuration will be conducted in the coming months.

The Astra Mark II promises a significant improvement over its predecessor, the Astra Mark I. With an estimated range of 160 kilometers, it boasts a 45% increase compared to the Mark I’s 110 kilometers. This extended reach puts it in the same ballpark as the widely used AIM-120D missile, potentially offering the Indian Air Force a tactical advantage in aerial engagements.

The Astra Mark II program has progressed through several successful trials, including captive flight tests, captive missile ejections, and unguided launches. The upcoming phase will involve more complex scenarios.

Mark II will be tested soon for a Electronic Target Engagement, In this test missile’s Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) seeker, a crucial component for identifying and tracking enemy aircraft will be tested. Second round of tests will see assessing the missile’s accuracy in a realistic combat simulation with a maneuvering target with use of Pilotless Target Aircraft.

The testing process is expected to continue over the next few years, encompassing various launch environments and targeting both maximum and minimum ranges. This comprehensive approach aims to ensure the Astra Mark II’s effectiveness under diverse operational conditions.