Long-delayed Astra missile will finally be test-fired

Yusuf

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NEW DELHI: India's first air-to-air Astra missile is finally back on track now after an excruciatingly long delay due to technical glitches. The beyond visual range (BVR) missile, with an eventual strike range of over 100km, will be fired for the first time from a Sukhoi-30MKI fighter this year.

The need for a cheap, indigenous air-to-air missile cannot be over-emphasized. Modern day air combat is increasingly becoming all about BVR combat, rather than the dogfights of yore, with missiles with ranges over 40 km becoming the norm.

But BVR missiles are quite complex - with rocket/ramjet propulsion, micro-computers, active radar guidance/inertial navigation systems, terminal radar frequency seekers and the like - since they have to effectively destroy highly-agile supersonic fighters packed with "counter-measures" at long ranges. Only a handful of countries like the US, Russia, France and Israel have managed to develop them.

DRDO chief Avinash Chander candidly admits there are major technical problems in development of the Astra BVR missile, which sometimes pose bigger challenges than even nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles. "The missile was repeatedly failing since the aerodynamically controlled interactions were very severe," he told TOI.

"Finally, we changed the entire missile configuration. It has now undergone three successful ground trials. It then underwent captive flight trials in a Sukhoi-30MKI this April. We are over the hump now. We hope to actually fire it from a Sukhoi-30MKI by year-end," said Chander.

With these "developmental flight trials" slated to soon kick off, which will involve a battery of tests covering the entire flight envelope, the aim is to make Astra ready for induction by mid-2015 "if there are no further surprises", added the DRDO chief.

Astra will have a Mark-I version with a 44-km range, which will be followed by the over 100km Mark-II version. "Astra will be a state-of-the-art missile that will first be fitted on Sukhoi-30MKIs and then Tejas Light Combat Aircraft, followed by others. We are pretty confident it will happen soon," said Chander.

Astra has had a chequered history. Long in the making, with its prototypes even being tested earlier, the Astra project was finally officially sanctioned in March 2004 at an initial cost of Rs 955 crore. But deadlines and project completion dates have long fallen by the wayside.

Consequently, IAF continues to import expensive missiles like the Israeli Derby, Russian AA-12 Adder, French MICA and Matra Super 530D for its combat aircraft fleet. Incidentally, Pakistan too has been buying large quantities of air-to-air missiles like the AMRAAM and AIM-9M Sidewinder from the US.

http://m.timesofindia.com/india/Lon...inally-be-test-fired/articleshow/20852126.cms
 

Drsomnath999

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Mark 1 version (44km) then Mark 2(100km)

now what does that for .???

perhaps to test aerodyanamics/or seeker quality agaisnt target drones or something else ???
 

WMD

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Earlier all the articles mentioned the range of mk1 as 80+ kms and the range of mk2 as 150kms.
How did it became so low?
 

Yusuf

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Mark 1 version (44km) then Mark 2(100km)

now what does that for .???

perhaps to test aerodyanamics/or seeker quality agaisnt target drones or something else ???
Actually we need both I would say. 40km range and 120kms
 

EXPERT

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first get rid of mark 1 then move on to mark 2.
 

p2prada

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first get rid of mark 1 then move on to mark 2.
Both are necessary. Both missiles will have different flight dynamics. One will be restricted to 30-40Gs while the other would be restricted to 50-60Gs. So both would behave differently depending on the conditions.

One is a proper BVR missile while the other will function as a good WVR missile with a modest BVR capability. Mk1 will be like a R-73/R-74 with an active seeker head.

Once actual specs are out we will know if both are relevant or not.
 

Kunal Biswas

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Mark 1 here is more of a specs like French Mica, Hope to see that in both IR and radar guided mode..
 

Armand2REP

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Mark 1 version (44km) then Mark 2(100km)

now what does that for .???

perhaps to test aerodyanamics/or seeker quality agaisnt target drones or something else ???
It is called baby steps. Propulsion is the problem. The rocket motor designed to reach 80km was not fuel efficient enough to achieve the required thrust for intercept speed, so range was reduced for a higher yet shorter burn. For mark 2 a whole new propulsion method will be introduced, most likely ramjet.
 

Kunal Biswas

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Why don't people just keep there mouth where it should be, rather pimping out there article..

There are few countries who able to make BVR is for a reason, that is its complexity, Astra history is from only 2004-2013, merely 10 years and its ready for tests now go compare with others develop country did so far..

Kuddos, to our National defense Industry able to make it this fast with so less money..

-----------------

Mica are part of Mirage deal, Like Russian sale there trucks with any system regardless we need or not, part of the whole package..

Matra Super 530D are purchased back in days early 90s, late 80s, way before Astra project even took off..

R-77 are purchased with SU-30MKI back in late 90s, Again no relation with Astra..


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Pakistan is making imports and we should also continue imports, logic..

Astra has had a chequered history. Long in the making, with its prototypes even being tested earlier, the Astra project was finally officially sanctioned in March 2004 at an initial cost of Rs 955 crore. But deadlines and project completion dates have long fallen by the wayside.

Consequently, IAF continues to import expensive missiles like the Israeli Derby, Russian AA-12 Adder, French MICA and Matra Super 530D for its combat aircraft fleet. Incidentally, Pakistan too has been buying large quantities of air-to-air missiles like the AMRAAM and AIM-9M Sidewinder from the US.
 

p2prada

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Our latest deals for R-77 (xx Km class, I'm not sure if we ordered RVV-AE or RVV-SD) were for 40 by the Navy in 2006 and 500 by the IAF in 2011.

Derby (50 Km class) would be 20 by the Navy for Sea Harriers in 2005 and 100 for the Tejas Mk1 possibly this year.

490 MICA (50 Km class) for Mirage-2000s in 2012.

R-27 (130 Km class) from Ukraine, 500 missiles for Mig-29s and MKIs in 2012.
 

TrueSpirit

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Earlier all the articles mentioned the range of mk1 as 80+ kms and the range of mk2 as 150kms.
How did it became so low?
Could it be due to weight issues that could not be sorted out within deadlines ?

Maybe, in order to complete the already-delayed project in the nick of time, they settled for somewhat modest range. Just speculating.
 

arnabmit

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Based on radar power on the craft to guide them, Mk1 for Tejas & Mk2 for Su-30MKI?
 

p2prada

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Based on radar power on the craft to guide them, Mk1 for Tejas & Mk2 for Su-30MKI?
MKI will be a platform for so many missiles. K-100 and Meteor may be added to the list soon. Next up will be the new generation missiles being developed for PAKFA. That's apart from R-77, Astra and R-27. No other aircraft in the world and no other air force in the world will have access to so many missiles for BVR.

Even FGFA will have a lesser complement of such missiles.
 

Drsomnath999

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Actually we need both I would say. 40km range and 120kms
See

40 km range missile belong to MICA /derby class missile if they go for EM seekers ,but they have to have smaller rocket motor engine like them
meanwhile for 100km range missile it belongs to AIM 120/R77 class missile if they go by default for EM seekers but their rocket motor is larger with more propellants

But the point is whether IAF would opt for 40km range EM guided or IR guided ???



It is called baby steps. Propulsion is the problem. The rocket motor designed to reach 80km was not fuel efficient enough to achieve the required thrust for intercept speed, so range was reduced for a higher yet shorter burn. For mark 2 a whole new propulsion method will be introduced, most likely ramjet.
Well u may be correct on propulsion ground But it is not neccassary that a ramjet engine would power Mark2 to achieve that 100km range , well similiar kind of rocket motor which powers the R 77 or AIM 120 can also be used to achieve that range.

Yes India has plans of RAmjet engine but that is for future perhaps ,Ramjet engine missiles are too complex to master yet even the Russians & americans have yet to induct it,
 

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What exactly is the range of MICA? it has been quoted differently from 50 to 80 kms and MICA NG likely to have nearly 100kms range due to miniaturisation of onboard electronics freeing space for more powder.
 

Kunal Biswas

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MICA is 40kms range A2AM, Its advance version is in making..
 

roma

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Why don't people just keep there mouth where it should be, rather pimping out there article..

There are few countries who able to make BVR is for a reason, that is its complexity, Astra history is from only 2004-2013, merely 10 years and its ready for tests now go compare with others develop country did so far..

Kuddos, to our National defense Industry able to make it this fast with so less money.. .
given that what youve written above is a reasonable picture of the overall situation - then we are about to see some really exiting times not too far away

indian science and engineering is about to take off in a rather impressive way !
 

Drsomnath999

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What exactly is the range of MICA? it has been quoted differently from 50 to 80 kms and MICA NG likely to have nearly 100kms range due to miniaturisation of onboard electronics freeing space for more powder.
Sir
No offence !!
i dont think MICA NG would have 100km range
 

p2prada

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What exactly is the range of MICA? it has been quoted differently from 50 to 80 kms and MICA NG likely to have nearly 100kms range due to miniaturisation of onboard electronics freeing space for more powder.
MBDA has focussed more on improving the end game and NEZ of the missile rather than increase range. It is still a 110 Kg missile which is roughly in the R-73 and Derby weight class.

The Aim-120C-5/6/7 weighs around 160 Kg. The motor weight is 71 Kg. Propellent weight is estimated to be about 45 Kg, ~20 Kg for warhead, seeker should weigh at least 10 Kg and another 10-14 Kg for the rest.

Even with miniaturisation of the electronics, the weight savings is just a few Kgs and won't translate into doubling the range. So the same would apply for MICA. The R-77s earliest seekers weighed over 30 Kgs and today they weigh 10 Kgs. We will need such a major weight saving if we are to increase MICA's range dramatically.

Comparatively, the Aim-120C-8 or Aim-120D weighs 225 Kg with a straight shot range of 120 Km and a loft trajectory of 180 Km. Maybe because the dual pulse motor increases the weight to a larger extent. But this kind of a design on MICA NG would mean greater weight and hence more propellent. That would still bring it into the 150-200 Kg class.

Overall, I believe MICA NG will continue to have the same range but better performance specs with an increase in seeker capability while Meteor will provide the 100 Km capability that the French need. After all MBDA's intention is to make a cheaper missile to complement the Meteor.
 

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