New Delhi: Indian defence scientists may be preparing to test the Astra, an indigenously developed beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile. Reports suggest that the test flight could be conducted from an Indian Air Force Sukhoi-30MKI fighter aircraft "anytime in the next 45 days." Reports have cited top DRDO officials as their source.
Indian defence scientists have recently tasted success with a string of missile programmes, the most recent being the Akash surface-to-air missile. A successful test flight of the Astra programme will place India into a select group of nations that boast of such a technology. These include the US, France, Russia and China.
A beyond-visual-range missile enables fighter pilots to lock-on and shoot down enemy aircraft almost 80-120 km away.
According to DRDO scientists, the Astra is a futuristic missile, which has already been tested on the ground to prove its avionics, guidance and other sub-systems, including propulsion. It was first tested in March 2003, without control and guidance systems and once again in March 2007, this time at low altitudes and short ranges.
t is equipped with a radar fuse and a pre-fragmented warhead, and reports suggest that a laser fuse is being sought to be developed. Earlier assertions by defence scientists have suggested that the BVR missile would have a range of 80km in head-on chase and 15 km in tail chase.