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Astra Mk-1 Air-to-Air Missile- Features, and Strategic Significance

Astra Mk-1 Air-to-Air Missile- Relevance for UPSC Exam

  • GS Paper 3: Security- Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism; Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

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Astra Mk-1 Air-to-Air Missile in News

  • Recently, the Ministry of Defence said that it has signed a contract with the Hyderabad-based public-sector Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) for supply of the Astra Mark-1, at a cost of Rs 2,971 crore.
    • These Astra Mark-1 Missiles will be deployed on fighter jets of the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.
  • Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles are capable of engaging beyond the range of 20 nautical miles or 37 kilometers.
    • Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs) are fired from an airborne asset to destroy an airborne target.

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What is Astra Mk-1 Air-to-Air Missile?

  • Background: Astra project was officially launched in the early 2000s with defined parameters and proposed future variants.
    • Around 2017, the development phase of Mk-1 version was complete.
  • About: The Astra Mk-1 is a beyond visual range (BVR), air-to-air missile (AAM).
  • Design and Development: The Astra Mk-1 missile has been designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
    • Astra Mk-1 Missile has been developed for deployment on fighter jets like Sukhoi-30 MKI and Tejas of the IAF and the Mig-29K of the Navy.
  • Astra Mk-1 Missile Range: While the range for Astra Mk-1 is around 110 km, the Mk-2 with a range over 150 km is under development and Mk-3 version with a longer range is being envisaged.
    • One more version of Astra, with a range smaller than Mk-1 is also under development.
  • Features: The Astra Mk-1 missile can travel at speeds more than four times that of sound and can reach a maximum altitude of 20 km, making it extremely flexible for air combat.
    • The missile is fully integrated on the Sukhoi 30 MKI I and will be integrated with other fighter aircraft in a phased manner, including the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas.
    • The Indian Navy will integrate the missile on the MiG-29K fighter aircraft which are deployed on the Navy’s aircraft carriers, thus adding to the lethality of India’s Aircraft carriers.

The Editorial Analysis- Unguided Missile


Strategic significance of Astra Mk-1 Air-to-Air Missile

  • The missile has been designed based on requirements specified by the IAF for BVR as well as close-combat engagement, reducing the dependency on foreign sources.
  • AAMs with BVR capability provides large stand-off ranges to own fighter aircraft which can neutralise adversary airborne assets without exposing themselves to adversary air defence measures.
    • Stand-off range means the missile is launched at a distance sufficient to allow the attacking side to evade defensive fire from the target.
  • Astra is technologically and economically superior to many such imported missile systems.


BrahMos Missile- Extended Range BrahMos Flight-Tested


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