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As 2023 draws to a close, India’s missile arsenal stands poised for further expansion in 2024. With a consistent record of both public and classified tests throughout the year, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is gearing up for more trials and potentially unveiling game-changing technologies. 

Here’s a glimpse into what we can expect:

1. Astra MkII: The long-awaited full-fledged test of this air-to-air missile finally seems within reach. Boasting a reported range of 160 kilometres, Astra MkII will significantly enhance India’s air defence capabilities. Previous tests confirmed the success of its dual-pulse motor, and 2024 is likely to witness the integration of its crucial AESA seeker, paving the way for its operational deployment in the coming years.

2. Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD): The second phase of India’s BMD system will see the testing of the AD-2 interceptor, designed to neutralize intermediate-range ballistic missiles (3,000-5,500km range). Following the successful test of the AD-1 interceptor in 2021, the completion of both phases by 2025 will create a robust multi-layered shield against ballistic missile threats.

3. Rudram-3 Air-to-Ground Missile: After successful tests of the Rudram-2 in 2022, DRDO is set to commence trials of the 550-kilometre range Rudram-3. This air-to-ground missile will significantly enhance the Indian Air Force’s deep strike capabilities. Carriage trials in 2023 indicate imminent test flights, promising a potent addition to India’s offensive arsenal.

4. K-5 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM): The much-anticipated successor to the K-4 SLBM, dubbed K-5, has been under development for the last few years. With a projected range of 5,000 kilometres, it will significantly extend India’s second-strike capability. While trials are expected in 2024, their public disclosure might remain under wraps due to strategic considerations.

5. Supersonic Target Missile (STAR): This hypersonic target missile powered by a liquid-fuel ramjet engine has captured attention, but a test flight is yet to occur. DRDO plans to develop three variants for different branches of the armed forces, providing critical targets for testing supersonic air defence systems and also two variants that will include anti-AWACS and anti-radiation missiles. 

All these advancements paint a picture of a rapidly evolving Indian missile arsenal, steadily increasing its reach and sophistication. 2024 promises to be a year of groundbreaking tests and potential unveilings, solidifying India’s position as a major player in the global missile technology landscape.

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