IAF Tejas fighter jet test firing ASTRA air-to-air advanced BVR missile during a trial run

NEW DELHI — The Indian fighters will be equipped with the local Astra MK-1 all-weather beyond-visual-range [BVR] active radar homing air-to-air missile [AAM]. India’s defence ministry has already signed a contract with missile maker Bharat Dynamics, according to an international web portal.

The Astra MK-1 is designed to be compatible with MiG-29UPG / MiG-29K, Su-30MKI, and TEJAS MK-1 fighters already in service with the Indian Navy or Air Force. However, the Astra MK-1 will also be compatible with the planned two other Indian Army fighter jets – TEJAS MK-2 / MWF [Medium Weight single-engine fighter aircraft known as TEJAS MK-2] and AMCA [planned stealth, 5th Gen, multi-role, air superiority fighter] and TEDBF [planned canard delta wing, twin-engine, carrier-based, multirole combat aircraft].

The Astra MK-1 is India’s first self-developed air-to-air missile. Its existence began in the current decade with mass production in 2017. The Indian Ministry of Defence has officially adopted the Astra MK-1 in 2019. The designer of the missile is the Defence Research and Development Organization [DRDO].

Astra MK-1 is the first variant of this class, and there are four more, which are: MK-2, MK-3, IR, and VL-SRSAM. The Astra rocket has the following dimensions: mass 154 kg [340 lb], length 3.84 m [12.6 ft] and diameter 178 mm [7.0 in]. The warhead is high-explosive pre-fragmented, weighs approximately 15 kg, and is detonated by radio proximity fuse.

After being launched from the fighter’s launcher, the Astra MK-1 is powered by a solid-propellant rocket engine that burns the fuel/oxidizer mixture. The maximum operating range of the Astra MK-1 is 110 km [68 mi], flying at an altitude of up to 20 km. The speed reached during the flight is about 4.5 Mach.

Astra MK-1 has a guidance system built by integrating various capabilities, which include: a fibre-optic gyro based inertial navigation system with mid-course update via datalink and terminal active radar homing.

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