Rudram air-to-surface ground attack and anti-radiation missiles integrated on Sukhoi Su-30MKI

The Indian Air Force has set its sights on equipping its frontline fighters with the Astra MK-1 missiles, signifying its importance in air defence strategy

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to bolster its air defence capabilities with a significant contract for indigenous Astra Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Air to Air Missiles. These contracts, awarded to Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), are poised to enhance India's self-reliance in defence manufacturing. The initial batch of Astra missiles is expected to be inducted into the IAF's inventory by the end of 2023.

Development efforts are already in progress for the more advanced and longer-range Astra MK-2, marking a significant step in India's quest for defence self-sufficiency. Successful static firing tests have been conducted, demonstrating the missile's readiness for production. BDL has secured Bulk Production Clearance from the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC), a noteworthy milestone in India's defence manufacturing.

The Astra missile system has already showcased its capabilities by being fully integrated into the Su-30MKI. In a successful August test, it was launched from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) TEJAS off the coast of Goa, releasing the missile at an altitude of approximately 20,000 feet.

Astra Mk-1 To Lead The Way: Reducing Import Dependency

The IAF has set its sights on equipping its frontline fighters with the Astra MK-1 missiles, signifying the system's importance in India's air defence strategy. Furthermore, officials have affirmed that the Astra MK-2 is poised to become the backbone of the IAF's BVR missile arsenal, significantly diminishing India's reliance on imported defence equipment.

The Defence Ministry had previously sealed a deal with BDL in May 2022 for the supply of Astra MK-1 missiles and associated equipment, with a total cost of ₹2,971 crore. According to reports, the IAF is seeking an initial procurement of over 200 MK-1 missiles, underscoring the system's effectiveness and reliability.

The Astra missile system is a state-of-the-art BVR air-to-air missile with a range exceeding 100 kilometres. It is designed to engage and neutralise highly manoeuvrable supersonic aerial targets. This technological achievement is the result of collaborative efforts between the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Research Centre Imarat (RCI), and several other DRDO laboratories. The successful development and integration of the Astra missile system underscore India's commitment to advancing its indigenous defence capabilities.