Astra (missile)


Astra Mk.1
TypeBeyond-visual-range missile
Place of originIndia
Service history
In service2019 (2019)–present
Used by
Production history
DesignerDefence Research and Development Organisation
ManufacturerBharat Dynamics Limited
Unit cost7−8 crore (US$−1.1 million)
VariantsAstra Mk.1, Mk.2, Mk.3, IR, VL-SRSAM
Mass154 kg (340 lb)
Length3.84 m (12.6 ft)
Diameter178 mm (7.0 in)
WarheadHigh-explosive pre-fragmented HMX/PU[1]
Warhead weight15 kg (33 lb)
Radio proximity fuze

PropellantSolid fuel
  • Astra Mk.1: 110 km (68 mi)
  • Astra IR: 80 km (50 mi) (under-development)
  • Astra Mk.2: 160 km (99 mi)[2] (under-development)
  • Astra Mk.3: 350 km (220 mi)[3] (under-development)
Flight ceiling20 km (66,000 ft)
Maximum speed Mach 4.5[4]
Mid-course: Fibre-optic gyro based inertial navigation system with mid-course update via datalink.
Terminal: Active radar homing

Astra (Sanskrit: अस्त्र, lit.'weapon'[11]) is an Indian all weather beyond-visual-range active radar homing air-to-air missile, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation. It is the first air-to-air missile developed by India. Astra is designed to be capable of engaging targets at varying range and altitudes allowing for engagement of both short-range targets at a distance of 10 km (6.2 mi) and long-range targets up to a distance of 110 km (68 mi).[12][13] Astra has been integrated with Indian Air Force's Sukhoi Su-30MKI and will be integrated with Dassault Mirage 2000, HAL Tejas and Mikoyan MiG-29 in the future. Limited series production of Astra missiles began in 2017.[5][14][15]


Astra's older design resembled Matra Super 530D and Vympel R-77 in a few aspects.[12] Astra is 3.6 m (12 ft) long with a diameter of 178 mm (7.0 in) and weighs 154 kg (340 lb). It uses mid-course inertial guidance driven by fibre optic gyroscope with terminal guidance through active radar homing.[16] It is capable of receiving course corrections through a secure data link. The missile's active radar seeker with a homing range of 25 km (16 mi) is supplied by Agat and will be manufactured locally.[7] The seeker can lock-on to a target with a radar cross section of 5 square metres from a distance of 15 km and enables off-boresight launches up to an angle of 45°.[17] Some tests have been conducted in 2017 and 2018 using an indigenous seeker developed by Research Centre Imarat.[18][19][20]

Astra is equipped with electronic counter-countermeasures to allow operation even during enemy attempts to jam the seeker using electronic countermeasures. It carries a 15 kg (33 lb) high explosive pre-fragmented warhead activated by a proximity fuse.[7] Astra uses a smokeless solid fuelled motor that can propel the missile to a speed of Mach 4.5 and allows operation from a maximum altitude of 20 km (66,000 ft).[8][7] The maximum range of Astra is 110 km (68 mi) in head-on chase mode and 20 km (12 mi) in tail chase mode.[13] The maximum range is achieved when the missile launched from an altitude of 15 km (49,000 ft). When it is fired from an altitude of 8 km (26,000 ft), the range drops to 44 km (27 mi) and when it is launched from sea level, the range drops further to 21 km (13 mi).[21] Astra's low aspect ratio wings allow it to engage manoeuvring targets up to a range of 90 km (56 mi) in head-on chase mode and 60 km (37 mi) in tail chase mode.[7] It can be launched in both autonomous and buddy mode operation and can lock on to its target before or after it is launched.[22]


Preliminary work on Astra had begun by 1990 with the completion of a pre-feasibility study.[23] Astra was revealed to the public for the first time at Aero India 1998.[24] It was described as an elongated Matra Super 530D with a smaller diametre in front of the wings.[25] The project to develop Astra missile was officially sanctioned in 2004 with a budget of 955 crore (equivalent to 29 billion or US$380 million in 2020).[26] The project was to be led by Defence Research and Development Laboratory with assistance from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Electronics Corporation of India Limited.[27] The initial version of Astra reportedly weighed 300 kg (660 lb) with a range of 25–40 km (16–25 mi) and was planned to be integrated with HAL Tejas. It was tested for the first time in May 2003.[28]

The missile was redesigned around 2006 due to control issues and performance deficiencies at high altitude. The initial design of four cruciform short-span long-chord wings were replaced by cropped delta wings placed near the nose. The redesigned missile had an improved propulsion system and was tested for the first time in 2008.[29] By 2013, the missile had been redesigned again in response to multiple failures caused by adverse interactions between flight control surfaces.[30] The control, guidance, and propulsion systems were also reconfigured.[31] After the second redesign, the missile was lighter than the initial version by around 130 kg (290 lb). It was tested from the ground thrice in December 2012 and captive trials from a Sukhoi Su-30MKI were held in April 2013.[32][30]

Astra completed final development trials in September 2017 and was cleared for production at Bharat Dynamics Limited's manufacturing facility in Bhanur, Telangana for an initial order of 50 missiles. An additional order of 248 missiles were placed for Indian Air Force and Indian Navy for use on various platforms like Sukhoi Su-30MKI, HAL Tejas, MiG-29 / MiG-29K. Taking the total order number to 298 missiles.[13][5][10][33]


Air-to-air missile versions

Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) propulsion technology being tested by DRDO from Chandipur, Odisha, on February 8, 2019

After the deployment of Astra Mk. 1, several offshoot version are being planned including within visual range imaging Infra-red homing missile tentatively classified as Astra IR, whereas trials for a longer range version Astra Mk. 2 and a further development called Astra Mk. 3 is being planned.[34]

Astra Mk. 2 will use dual-pulse solid rocket motor for extended reach and better kinematics during the kill phase. The missile will share smokeless propulsion of its predecessor Mk. 1, whilst imbibing newer technologies being implemented in other missile program of DRDO like Barak 8 and Rudram-1.[12][29] The plan is to extend the range of Mk. 2 version to 160 kilometres (99 mi) rivaling American AMRAAM AIM 120-D. Astra Mk. 2 variant will make use of indigenous seeker manufactured by Bharat Electronics Limited.[35][9]

The testing for the Mk. 2 variant is scheduled to begin in the second half of 2022 with focus on improving the range by the use of dual-pulse motor and increasing the indigenous content to 100% inline with Atmanirbhar Bharat mission.[36]

A future variant Mk. 3 based on Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) engine is being jointly developed by India and Russia.[37] The missile was first tested on 30 May 2018 and further test was carried out on 8 February 2019.[38][39] The aim of the program to develop an indigenous missile rivaling PL-15, AIM-260 JATM and MBDA Meteor missile with a range of 350 km (220 mi).[34]

Surface-to-air missile versions

Maiden launch of VL-SRSAM by DRDO from Chandipur, Odisha on February 22, 2021

To fulfill the need of Indian Navy's replacement of Barak-1 short range surface-to-air missile system, DRDO successfully test fired two VL-SRSAM on 22 February 2021 at Odisha coast. The maiden launch tested the efficacy of vertical launch system and missile's maximum and minimum range. Both the missile successfully intercepted their target with pin point accuracy.[40]

VL-SRSAM supersedes the cancelled Maitri missile project undertaken jointly by MBDA and DRDO based on the work done on MICA and Trishul.[41] The missile will arm Indian Navy ships like Kamorta-class corvette with short range air defense system. The missile use jet vane based thrust vectoring control to give high maneuverability to the missile. The missile maybe guided by Revathi radar which is extensively being used in Indian Navy ship like Kamorta-class corvette. [42]

Indian Air Force may also sport VL-SRSAM in truck-based launcher to supplement its Akash surface-to-air missile as a quick reaction system similar to Norwegian/American NASAM 2.[43]


Astra went through a series of ground tests from 2003 till 2012 in three different configurations to validate the airframe, propulsion system, control system, dual mode guidance and night firing capability. Carriage trials were carried out in 2009 and 2013 on Sukhoi Su-30MKI.[44][45] In May 2014, it was fired for the first time in air.[46] On 18 March 2016, the missile was fired in public during Iron Fist 2016 exercise from a Sukhoi Su-30MKI.[47] During a series of seven tests in September 2017, Astra was tested twice with an indigenous seeker.[19] During user trials in 2019, Astra hit a target at a distance of 90 km (56 mi).[48]

The flight trials on the indigenous built HAL Tejas are expected to begin in the first half of 2021.[49]




See also


  1. ^ Aroor, Shiv (24 March 2018). "How India's ASTRA Air-To-Air Missile Is Quietly Killing It". Livefist Defence. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  2. ^ Pandit, Rajat (23 October 2020). "Astra air combat missile to be soon tested from Tejas fighter". Times of India. TNN. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  3. ^ Pandit, Rajat (23 October 2020). "Astra air combat missile to be soon tested from Tejas fighter". Times of India. TNN. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  4. ^ Bhardwaj, Tarun (17 September 2019). "Deadly weapon! IAF successfully test-fires air-to-air missile Astra from Sukhoi-30 combat aircrafts [sic]". Financial Express. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Bedi, Rahul (6 September 2017). "BDL begins initial build of Astra Mk1 BVRAAM". IHS Jane's Missiles & Rockets. Jane's Information Group. Archived from the original on 6 September 2017.
  6. ^ M. Somasekhar (27 August 2017). "Jaitley hands over long-range surface-to-air missile to Navy". The Hindu Business Line. The Hindu Group.
  7. ^ a b c d e Majumdar, Sayan (September–October 2015). "Astra – The Spear for Air Dominance" (PDF). Vayu Aerospace and Defence Review. No. 5. Society for Aerospace Studies. pp. 56–57.
  8. ^ a b Y. Mallikarjun (22 May 2015). "Astra missile successfully tested again". The Hindu. The Hindu Group. ISSN 0971-751X.
  9. ^ a b Pandit, Rajat (29 September 2019). "15 years on, DRDO's supersonic missile ready for IAF fighters". The Times of India.
  10. ^ a b "DAC approves capital acquisition of various platforms & equipment worth Rs 38,900 crore". PIB India. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  11. ^ "India tests air-to-air Astra missile again". Deutsche Presse-Agentur. 26 March 2007 – via NewsBank.
  12. ^ a b c Udoshi, Rahul (6 May 2014). "India successfully tests home-grown Astra AAM". IHS Jane's Defence Weekly. Jane's Information Group. Archived from the original on 17 May 2014.
  13. ^ a b c M. Somasekhar (18 September 2017). "After successful development trials, Astra missile ready for production". The Hindu Business Line. The Hindu Group.
  14. ^ Rout, Hemant Kumar (31 August 2017). "Indian Air Force likely to start trials of Astra missile from today". The New Indian Express. Express Publications (Madurai).
  15. ^ "Astra Missile Test successful: More power to the IAF's fighter planes". The Financial Express. 26 September 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2019.
  16. ^ Pandit, Rajat (5 May 2014). "First successful Astra test gives boost to air missile technology". The Times of India. The Times Group.
  17. ^ Richardson, Doug (1 April 2017). "India's Astra uses an AGAT seeker". IHS Jane's Missiles and Rockets. Coulsdon: Jane's Information Group. 17 (4).
  18. ^ Reddy, U. Sudhakar (16 September 2017). "Final trials of air-to-air missile Astra successful". Deccan Chronicle.
  19. ^ a b "Forty first report of the Standing Committee on Defence (2017–2018)" (PDF). New Delhi: Lok Sabha Secretariat. March 2018. p. 59.
  20. ^ "Indigenously developed air-to-air missile Astra successfully test fired". Hindustan Times. HT Media. Press Trust of India. 26 September 2018.
  21. ^ Y. Mallikarjun; T. S. Subramanian (22 December 2012). "Astra missile test-fired successfully". The Hindu. The Hindu Group.
  22. ^ Jha, Saurav (26 October 2013). "DRDO's international coming out party in Seoul features new Pragati tactical missile system". IBNLive. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013.
  23. ^ Beech, Eric (2–8 May 1990). "India researches air-to-air missile" (PDF). Flight International. Vol. 137 no. 4214. Reed Business Information. p. 15. ISSN 0015-3710.
  24. ^ Gethin, Howard (16–22 December 1998). "India unveils Astra but keeps wraps on LCA" (PDF). Flight International. Reed Business Information.
  25. ^ "Astra test may be delayed". The Times of India. The Times Group. 6 April 2002.
  26. ^ Pandit, Rajat (6 November 2015). "10 years in making, Astra advanced air combat missile may be ready in 2016". The Times of India. The Times Group.
  27. ^ M. Somasekhar (17 June 2004). "DRDL to develop Astra missile". The Hindu Business Line. The Hindu Group.
  28. ^ T. S. Subramanian (24 May – 6 June 2003). "An Astra in the armoury". Frontline. Vol. 20 no. 11. The Hindu Group. ISSN 0970-1710.
  29. ^ a b Hewson, Robert (April 2011). "Astra redesign paves way for ramjet AAM". Jane's Missiles and Rockets. Coulsdon: Jane's Information Group. 15 (4): 3.
  30. ^ a b Pandit, Rajat (1 July 2013). "Long-delayed Astra missile will finally be test-fired". The Times of India. The Times Group.
  31. ^ Richardson, Doug (1 February 2017). "Redesigned Astra completes three ground launches". IHS Jane's Missiles and Rockets. Coulsdon: Jane's Information Group. 17 (2).
  32. ^ "Third Astra launch too a success". The Hindu. The Hindu Group. 25 December 2012.
  33. ^ "Air Force to get 33 new fighter jets, 248 indigenous Astra missiles". BusinessWorld. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  34. ^ a b Pandit, Rajat (23 October 2020). "Astra air combat missile to be soon tested from Tejas fighter". Times of India. TNN. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  35. ^ "Interview | Youngsters can power India into a defence technology leader: Dr Satheesh Reddy". OnManorama. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  36. ^ "India working on next 'Astra' missile with 160 km range as Mk1 is integrated in IAF & Navy". The Print. 15 December 2020. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  37. ^ Pubby, Manu (2 June 2018). "India tastes only partial success in Ramjet test". The Economic Times. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  38. ^ "Successful Flight Test of SFDR". Press Information Bureau, Government of India. 31 May 2018. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  39. ^ "Successful Flight Test of SFDR". Press Information Bureau, Government of India. 8 February 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  40. ^ "Successful Launches of VL-SRSAM Missile System". PIB. 22 February 2021.
  41. ^ Rout, Hemant Kumar (23 February 2021). "DRDO conducts successful flight test of VL-SRSAM". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
  42. ^ "Indian Navy's Ship-based Air Defence Missile Contest Begins Today". Livefist. 17 October 2019.
  43. ^ "Not Keen On NASAMS-II, IAF Wants Indian Missile Defence". Livefist. 20 July 2020.
  44. ^ Tur, Jatinder Kaur (6 December 2013). "'Astra' carriage trials with Su-30 begins". The Times of India. The Times Group.
  45. ^ Sharma, Ravi (1 November 2009). "Captive flight trials of Astra missile carried out". The Hindu. Chennai, India: The Hindu Group.
  46. ^ Y. Mallikarjun (4 May 2014). "Astra successfully test-fired from Sukhoi-30 MKI". The Hindu. The Hindu Group. ISSN 0971-751X.
  47. ^ Chopra, Anil (19 March 2016). "Iron Fist 2016: Indian Air Force's greatest show of air power". Daily News and Analysis.
  48. ^ "IAF, DRDO carry out test firing of Astra air-to-air missile". Business Standard. 18 September 2019.
  49. ^ P, Rajat (23 November 2020). "Astra air combat missile to be soontested from Tejas fighter". The Times of India. Retrieved 20 December 2020.

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