IAF may get Astra by year end

IAF may get Astra by year end

The indigenous beyond-visual-range missile Astra underwent 12 tests in the last two and half years and would require at least four more trials before it is handed over to the Indian Air Force (IAF) for operational use.

Scientists at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) hoped to complete the remaining four trials before the summer of 2017, so that it could be transferred to the service later this year. The missile with 75 km range was first launched in May 2014 and integrated with the Su-30MKI aircraft by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, a year later.

The live firing of the missile was demonstrated before President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the IAF’s iron-fist fire power demonstration in March 2016.

“We have done 12 trials of Astra firing so far and need to do four more before the missile is ready for the IAF. The remaining trials may be completed by the summer of 2017, depending on the availability of Su-30 MKI aircraft,” a source told DH.

Astra is already over four years behind schedule. The probable date of completion was originally fixed at August 2012 and later revised to December 2016.

The missile’s launch in December 2016 reportedly failed, though the officials maintain silence over this.

Reports from Bhubaneswar suggest that Astra lost velocity within a few seconds after the firing, slipped from the intended trajectory, dropped and then exploded on a beach along the coastline. However, neither the DRDO nor the defence ministry responded in this regard.

Agni series
On the 5,000-km range Agni-V missile, sources said the DRDO completed four successful trials since its maiden flight in April 2012. No more developmental trials are required as the missile is ready for the user — the Strategic Forces Command — they said.

The 17-metre long missile, weighing around 50 tonnes, was last launched from a road mobile canister on December 26, demonstrating its all-terrain applicability and the weapon’s flexibility to be fired from any part of the country.

The nuclear missile is capable of carrying a war-head of 1,000 kg.

On January 2, the long-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile Agni-IV, with a range of 4,000 km, was successfully flight tested, showcasing the weapon’s efficacy and reliability.

This was Agni-IV’s seventh launch, which included three developmental flights and four tests to train the users.  

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