Highly Flexible, India's Astra BVR Missiles Can Be Paired With Russian Fighters

Highly Flexible, India's Astra BVR Missiles Can Be Paired With Russian Fighters
India's Astra BVR Missiles Can Be Paired With Russian Fighters

International Military - It was reported recently that the Indian Ministry of Defense awarded a contract worth 424 million dollars to Bharat Dynamics Ltd. Bharat Dynamics itself is an armaments manufacturing company and is trusted to supply Astra MK1 Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles to the country's air force.

The contract calls for the company to supply 400 Astra MK1 missiles to the Indian Air Force within four years. Interestingly, this missile developed by a local company can be paired with Russian warplanes.

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The Astra MK1 BVR missile is planned to be operated by a fleet of Su-30MKI, Tejas, MiG-29K and other fighter aircraft, thereby reducing India's dependence on foreign products. What's more, considering that economic sanctions against Russia have made it difficult for countries to get military spare parts from that country.

And what the Indian Ministry of Defense plans is to replace the Russian R-77 missiles currently used by the Su-30MKI and MiG-29K. "The Astra MK1 missile will replace the R-77, due to the current economic sanctions against Russia and the better capabilities of this locally made missile."

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The Astra MK1 BVR missile is claimed to be more accurate and has a wider range so that it provides advantages in long-range attack operations, or Beyond Visual Range (BVR). Compared to Russian missiles, the R-77 has an effective range of only 80 km, while the Astra MK1 can go as far as 100 km, citing Defense Security Asia.

With a longer distance, it will certainly give the Indian Air Force an advantage in carrying out long-range attacks. As additional information, in 2019 the Indian fighter aircraft, the Su-30MKI, attacked Pakistan.

Pakistan, at that time retaliated by deploying F-16 fighter aircraft equipped with AIM 120 missiles from the US. Although Pakistan's missile attack did not succeed in hitting the Indian Su-30MKI because it made an evasive move, however, the fact that India could not counterattack because the Pakistani F-16 was out of range of the Su-30MKI, the Jakarta Zone quoted Times Now News.

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It was this reason that prompted India to mobilize local manufacturers to develop better missiles, and the Astra MK1 with a wider range was born.

Astra MK1 Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile

What is a Beyond Visual Range or BVR missile? Namely missiles capable of striking targets at a distance of 37 km or more. So technology like the BVR inside a missile allows fighter pilots to hit targets beyond their visual range.

While the Astra-MK1 is the first BVR missile developed by India, designed and developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). The BVR missile is designed to destroy aerial targets with high maneuverability and supersonic speed, according to the First Post.

In short, the capabilities of the Astra MK1 missile allow it to strike multiple high-performance targets. Development of the BVR missile was officially approved in the early 2000s and its first phase or MK1 was completed in 2017.

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The Astra MK1 has a length of 3.57 meters and a diameter of 178 mm, effectively reaching targets at 80 to 110 km traveling at a speed of Mach 4.5. The missile also has a locally developed Ku-band active radar guidance system and a 15 kg warhead.

According to the First Post, the price per unit of this locally-made Indian missile is much cheaper than the Russian, French and Israeli BVR missiles they are currently using. One of the selling points of the Astra MK1 BVR missile is its highly effective performance, capable of destroying targets with just one shot in both head-on and tail-chase modes.

The reason why the presence of the Astra MK1 is highly anticipated by India

First, the long range capability of the Astra MK1 provides an increased attack power for the Indian Air Force. Second, and most importantly, autonomous weapons development will reduce India's dependence on foreign sources.

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The only countries that can reliably control Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles are the US, Russia, Europe and China, and now India is in the ranks, citing the First Post. What's more, the Ministry of Defense claims that technologically and economically, this Astra missile is superior to imported missile systems.

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