Bharat Dynamics to supply IAF and Navy Rs 2,971 crore worth of Astra missiles - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Tuesday 31 May 2022

Bharat Dynamics to supply IAF and Navy Rs 2,971 crore worth of Astra missiles

The Astra Mark 1 has a range of 75 km, while the Mark 2 (under development) is aiming for 100 km


By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 1st June 22


The Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed a contract on Tuesday with Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) for building Astra Mark-1 beyond visual range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAMs) worth Rs 2,971 crore for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Navy. 


The Astra Mark-1 missile, which has been developed by the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), can engage enemy fighter aircraft at ranges of up to 75 kilometres, the MoD told the Lok Sabha on May 6, 2016.


“Till now, the technology to manufacture missile of this class indigenously was not available,” the MoD stated on Tuesday. Having been developed by the DRDO, it will now be procured under the high-priority “Buy (Indian – Indian designed, developed and manufactured)”, or Buy (Indian – IDDM) category.


“The missile, for which successful trials have already been undertaken by the IAF, is fully integrated on the Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft and will be integrated with other fighter aircraft in a phased manner, including the Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas). The Indian Navy will integrate the missile on the MiG 29K fighter aircraft,” stated the MoD.


“The Astra’s BVR capability provides large “stand off ranges” to our own fighter aircraft, allowing them to neutralise the adversary aircraft without exposing themselves to adversary air defence measures… This missile is technologically and economically superior to many such imported missile systems,” said the MoD.


“The transfer of technology from DRDO to BDL for production of Astra Mark-I missile and all associated systems has been completed and production at BDL is in progress. This project will act as a catalyst for development of infrastructure and testing facilities at BDL. It will also create opportunities for several MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) in aerospace technology for a period of at least 25 years,” stated the MoD.


With the IAF operating 600-700 fighter aircraft, it will need several thousand Astra missiles. With air-to-air missiles costing in the region of Rs 15 crore each, the Astra will provide major business opportunities to Indian firms.


The Astra BVRAAM involves radically different technology challenges compared to ballistic and tactical missiles. A typical Astra engagement has both the launcher and the target moving at speeds in excess of 1,000 kilometres per hour.


Fired from a pylon on the wing of a Sukhoi-30MKI fighter, the Astra’s smokeless propellant quickly accelerates it to about 4,000 kilometres per hour. As the missile gains on the target, the Su-30MKI tracks the target continuously on its radar, and steers the missile towards it over a data link. About 15 kilometres from the target, the Astra’s on-board radio seeker locks onto the target; now, it no longer needs guidance. When it reaches a few metres from the enemy fighter, the Astra warhead is detonated by a “radio proximity fuze”, spraying the target with shrapnel and shooting it down.


Only a handful of missile builders – in the USA, Russia, Europe and China – have mastered the technologies that go into BVRAAMS. India is now joining that elite group.


On the drawing board is a longer-range Astra Mark II, which will shoot down enemy fighters at ranges up to 100 kilometres away.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps I am ill informed, but I want to ask a question. How can a small missile spray a much bigger fighter aircraft with enough shrapnel to bring it down, when both are in close proximity to each other?


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