In a major boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, the Ministry of Defense today signed a contract with Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) for the supply of the ASTRA MK-I Beyond air-to-air missile Visual Range (BVR). (AAM) and associated equipment for the IAF and Indian Navy at a cost of Rs 2,971 crore under the Buy (Indian-IDDM) category.
Until now, the technology to locally manufacture missiles of this class was not available. ASTRA MK-I BVR AAM was designed and developed locally by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) based on personnel requirements issued by the IAF for restoration beyond visual range as well that the close combat engagement reduces reliance on foreign sources.
The air-to-air missile with BVR capability provides large standoff distances to its own combat aircraft that can neutralize the opposing aircraft without exposing itself to the opponent’s air defense measures, thus gaining and maintaining the superiority of the airspace. This missile is technologically and economically superior to many imported missile systems.
The ASTRA MK-I missile and all associated systems for its launch, ground handling and testing were developed by the DRDO in coordination with the IAF. The missile, for which successful trials have already been undertaken by the IAF, is fully integrated into the Su 30 MK-I fighter aircraft and will be gradually integrated into other combat aircraft, including the combat aircraft light (Tejas). The Indian Navy will integrate the missile on the MiG 29K fighter jet.
Technology transfer from DRDO to BDL for the production of the ASTRA MK-I missile and all associated systems has been completed and production at BDL is underway. This project will serve as a catalyst for the development of infrastructure and testing facilities at BDL.
It will also create opportunities for several MSMEs in aerospace technology for a period of at least 25 years. The project essentially embodies the spirit of “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” and will help facilitate the realization of the country’s journey towards air-to-air missile self-reliance.