India on Sunday successfully test-fired its first indigenously-developed beyond visual range (BVR) Astra missile, joining a select group of countries such as the US, France, Russia and Israel that developed this capability.
The Indian Air Force conducted the maiden launch of the Astra air-to-air missile from a Sukhoi-30 fighter.
The Mk-I variant of the missile can engage a target from a distance of more than 40 km. An extended-range version being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation is likely to have a range of more than 100 km. The Mk-II variant is likely to be tested by the year-end.
DRDO chief Avinash Chander said "Astra's successful launch from the Su-30 combat aircraft is a major step in missile-aircraft integration. Many more trials are planned and will be conducted to clear the launch envelope."
"The missiles have undergone rigorous testing on Su-30 in the captive mode for avionics integration and seeker evaluation in 2013. The project has thus reached the final stage of testing and evaluation, and the Mark-II variant with higher range capability is also planned to be tested by the end of 2014," DRDO spokesperson Ravi Gupta said.