The Defence Acquisition Council, headed by Defence Ministry Rajnath Singh, cleared the purchase of 248 indigenously developed Astra beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The first lot of 50 pre-production Astra Mk1 BVRAAM already has been delivered to IAF, which will be integrated into existing Su-30MKI fleet and another 100 will go to Mig-29UPG which after avionics upgrade and HAL developed Mission Computer will be next to get software upgrade patch for Astra Mk1 integration with the Zhuk-ME electronically scanned slotted planar array radar.
Mig-29UPG also got engine improvements and an expanded capability to conduct air-to-ground missions, which also feature an enlarged “hump” behind the cockpit, for extra fuel.
IAF will start getting 200 Astra Mk1 for Mig-29UPG and Su-30MKI fleet from 2021 onwards but our previous report (200 Astra Mk1 order soon with two different seekers ) hints at possible two seekers.
The Indian Navy also flies MiG-29Ks that have many updated features in common with the SMT and UPG variants will also get 48 Astra BVRAAM which will supplement Russian R-77 BVRAAM.
Tejas Mk1A will be third fighter jets which will get Astra Mk1 BVRAAM from 2024 onwards for which IAF might place orders for another 300 lot over 200 currently placed as per information provided to idrw.org.
Plans to integrate Astra Mk1 BVRAAM also on Mirage-2000 fleet that has been discussed but it will require French cooperation for source code of the Thales RDY 2 radar for the development of software which will allow Mission computer and Radar to talk to Astra Mk1 missiles for taking out the target.
India’s first indigenous air-to-air missile, Astra has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
The missile has been tested by the DRDO and the IAF at least 27 times since it was first fired.