A series of flight trials of Astra Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVR-AAM) were conducted by the Indian Air Force from September 26 to October 3, 2018 at the Integrated Test Range (ITR), Balasore, as part of final development trials of the missile.

Designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Laboratory and Avionics by the Research Centre Imarat (RCI) here, it is the country’s first indigenous BVR-AAM. It has completed all development trials now.

The trials were a combination of complex tests for engagement of pilot-less targets in different modes of manoeuvring, off-boresight, medium and long ranges. The missiles were telemetered for evaluation of online performance of all sub-systems especially the data-link, RF seeker and proximity fuse for end-game performance, said a press bulletin from DRDO.

Astra has been tested six times under different launch conditions and ranges as part of the final development trial. The missile has engaged targets and all the mission objectives have been met. With IAF's active participation, DRDO has developed the missile and integrated the weapon on Su-30 and other air platforms.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Nasik, has been instrumental in the modification of a number of Su-30 aircrafts for Astra weapon integration and support during trials. More than 50 private and public sector industries are involved in the development and production of different sub-systems of the missile. The missile is expected to be inducted into IAF in 2019.

The BVR-AAM was earlier successfully test fired by IAF’s Su-30 aircraft last week from Air Force Station, Kalaikunda. The missile had successfully engaged a manoeuvring target with high precision meeting the mission objectives. Astra is the best in class weapon system and has undergone more than 20 developmental trials, the bulletin added.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman congratulated DRDO, IAF, HAL and associated industries for successful trials. Meanwhile, there has been a change of guard at missile complex with distinguished scientist M.S.R. Prasad taking over as the Director General, Missiles and Strategic Systems.