India test-fires 'Astra' missile

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

India successfully test fired the Astra, meaning "weapon" in Sanskrit, air-to-air missile from a specially-made launcher at about 9:45 am. The launch occured at launch pad number two of the Integrated Test Range complex in Chandipur, 230 kilometres (143 miles) north-east of Bhubaneshwar, Orissa.

The single-stage, solid fuel Astra missile, developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), is a high-end tactical missile comparable to the contemporary BVR (Beyond Visual Range) missiles and is capable of engaging and destroying highly maneuverable supersonic aerial targets.

It is designed to intercept enemy aircraft at supersonic speeds in head-on mode at a range of 80 km and in tail-chase mode at 20 km. It is capable of carrying conventional payload of 15 kilograms. The missile has a solid-propellant engine and is capable of achieving speeds of around Mach 4, four times the speed of sound.

The missile which has a range of 25 km (15 miles) can be fitted into any fighter aircraft. It is intended to be eventually integrated with the IAF's Sukhoi-30MKI, MiG-29, Mirage 2000, Jaguar, and the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft.

S.P. Das, head of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Orissa said "It was a very good flight. The test was conducted to prove the control system," after the missile hit targets accurately.

Sources at the ITR claimed the tests on the missile's navigation, control, air frame, propulsion and other sub-system have been validated.The complex missile system would undergo some more trials before being made fully operational. They hope to introduce it in India's arsenal by 2011.