In a bid to provide a fillip to the armed forces, the Ministry of Defence Thursday approved procurement of Astra missiles and long-range land attack cruise missile systems with a range of 1,000 km for Air Force and Navy. Aside from these, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, also approved procurement of a number of frontline fighter jets—21 MiG-29 fighter jets are being bought from Russia while 12 Su-30 MKI aircraft will be procured from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.
A first of its kind indigenous missile, Astra was flight-tested successfully from a Sukhoi-30 MKI jet as a part of user trials by the Indian Air Force off the coast of Odisha on September 19 last year.
Indigenously developed Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile, Astra is designed to be mounted on a fighter aircraft and is also designed to engage and destroy highly manoeuvring supersonic aircraft.
With a 15-kilogram high-explosive pre-fragmented warhead, Astra has a range of over 70 km and can fly towards its target at a speed of over 5,555 km per hour. The missile has all-weather day and night capability.
The missile has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), along with almost 50 other public and private organisations, which were involved in multiple variants to meet specific requirements.