New Delhi: India's Defence Ministry on Tuesday signed a contract with Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) for supply of ASTRA MK-I Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Air to Air Missile (AAM) and associated equipment for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy at a cost of Rs 2,971 crore.

The technology to manufacture missile of this class indigenously was not available till now.

ASTRA MK-I BVR AAM has been indigenously designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) based on the requirements by the Indian Air Force (IAF) catering for Beyond Visual Range as well as Close Combat Engagement reducing the dependency on foreign sources, the Defence Ministry said.

Air to Air missile with BVR capability provides large Stand Off Ranges to own fighter aircraft which can neutralise the adversary's aircraft without exposing itself to the adversary's Air Defence measures, thereby gaining and sustaining superiority of the Air Space, the Ministry added.

This missile is technologically and economically superior to many such imported missile systems.

ASTRA MK-I missile and all associated systems for its launch, ground handling and testing has been developed by DRDO in coordination with the IAF.

The missile is fully integrated on the Sukhoi Su-30MK-I fighter aircraft and will be integrated with other fighter aircraft in a phased manner, including the Light Combat Aircraft (TEJAS).

The IAF has successfully undertaken trials for the missile.

The Indian Navy will integrate the missile on the MiG-29K fighter aircraft.

The Transfer of Technology from DRDO to BDL for production of ASTRA MK-I missile and all associated systems has been completed and production at BDL is in progress, the Ministry said.

This project will create opportunities for several MSMEs in aerospace technology for a period of at least 25 years.

The project will help facilitate realising the country's journey towards self-reliance in Air to Air Missiles.