Explained: Astra Mk-1 air-to-air missile — features, strategic significance

What is the News?

The Ministry of Defence has signed a contract with the Hyderabad-based Bharat Dynamics Ltd(BDL) for the supply of the Astra Mark-1 for deployment on fighter jets of the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. 

What is Astra Mark-1?

The Astra Mk-1 is a beyond visual range(BVR) air-to-air missile (AAM).

Note: BVM missiles are capable of engaging beyond the range of 20 nautical miles or 37 kilometres. AAMs are fired from an airborne asset to destroy an airborne target.

Developed and designed by: The Defense Research and Development Organization(DRDO) for deployment on fighter jets like Sukhoi-30 MKI and Tejas of the IAF and the Mig-29K of the Navy.

Range: 110 km.

Speed: The 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.

Significance: ​​AAMs with BVR capability provides large stand-off ranges to fighter aircraft. This can neutralize adversary airborne assets without exposing themselves to adversary air defence measures. 

Note: Stand-off range means the missile is launched at a distance sufficient to allow the attacking side to evade defensive fire from the target.

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: Astra Mk-1 air-to-air missile — features, strategic significance” published in Indian Express on 1st June 2022.

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