Two successful back to back trials of the indigenously developed Vertically Launched Short Range Surface to Air Missile (VL-SRSAM) to its Minimum range and Maximum range demonstrated coming of age maturity of the platform even when it was its first developmental trial of the missile systems that is based on, in production Astra Mk1 beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) developed for the both Air force and Naval fighter jets.

VLSRSAM carries on with the same Ku-Band Active Radar Seeker and smokeless propellant system used on the Astra Mk1 BVRAAM) and are near identical but there is an addition of Thrust Vector Control (TVC) to enable tail control, that allows the missile to obtain the high-speed maneuverability required to defend against advanced aerial threats at lower altitudes.

VLSRSAM will be the Indian Navy’s Point defense missile system (PDMS) that will replace existing Israeli Barak-1 PDMS on frontline warships to give it a 360° coverage against fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, unmanned air vehicles, and air-launched missiles. VLSRSAM will also be the second line of cover to protect the warship against a sea-skimming anti-ship missile at a distance of 10-15km.

VLSRSAM has been finetuned for better performance against faster and more maneuverable low-altitude threats, which will be used as a template for further development of the Astra medium-range air to air missile family in near future. DRDO is developing 8 cell Twin Vertical Launching System (VLS) for installation on the decks of the frontline warships and the same will be demonstrated from a warship by end of this year.

Astra IR

DRDO is in the process to develop an imaging infra-red homing seeker equipped Astra short-medium range air to air missile that will carry the same thrust vector control unit fitted to the rocket motor to increases the missile’s agility as seen in the VLSRSAM. The rounded infrared-transparent glass dome at the nose where the infra-red homing seeker will be housed will be another visible change in the new missile system. Astra IR will get an infra-red homing seeker that is designed to filter out counter-measures such as chaff and decoy flares.

Astra IR will maintain most of the technologies that have already been developed for the Astra Mk1 and VLSRSAM program and it is expected that the missile will be ready for developmental trials by end of this year. Astra IR will supplement Russian R-73 and French Mica-IR short-medium range air to air missile in its fighter jet fleet.

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