A lot of hype is being generated during the ongoing development trials of Astra, the beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air Missile being indigenously developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Sources revealed that though the second consecutive test was carried out successfully on Saturday as part of the development trials of Astra at the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, Odisha, sources said these were just baby steps. Development trials for the Astra have been going since 2003. The next test will be carried out on December 24, officials said.
Officials are still not able to say when the development trials to test various systems shall be completed. The user trials by the Indian Air Force can start only after that. The missile is being developed to arm various IAF aircraft including the Tejas, Su-30 MKI, Mirage 2000 and even the Sea Harrier. DRDO is reportedly planning to have two different versions of Astra, for different fighter aircraft. Astra was successfully test-fired from a ground launcher on Saturday and the missile successfully intercepted the target midair. Lakshya, the indigenously developed Pilotless Target Aircraft was used as the target.
DRDO said some more tests will be carried out from the ground launchers to generate data, which will be followed by launches from aerial platforms.It can carry a 15-Kg High Explosive warhead at Mach 4 (four times the speed of sound). It can engage manoeuvring targets moving at high speeds and varying at distances and heights and has a proximity fuse.