Future of aerial combats will be decided by the long-range radar and BVR missiles. The early detection and engagement is going to give the edge in aerial combat scenario. There It is important for India to develop its long-range missiles like Astra Mk-2 and Mk-3 to meet IAF’s requirements.
There are few more updates coming for DRDO’s upcoming Astra series of missile. However, before we start, lets quickly revisit the progress made in the development of Astra Mark-2 missile. The maiden captive & launch drop trial of the Astra Mark-2 missile was conducted in the year 2021 from SU-30 MKI aircraft. During the trial ejection and retraction mechanism of the missile was tested for the very first time during the launch using ejector launcher. As per the update from Vayu Aerospace Review, the hot trials of the Astra Missile are planned to be conducted by the end of year 2023.
Astra Mark2 missile is going to massively boost the IAF air superiority. The missile is a dual pulse variant of Astra Mark-I having maximum range of 160+Km in a head-on chase and around 40 km in a tail chase mode.
The next update is about Astra Mark-3 missile. As per the update from Review Vayu, the Astra Mark-3 is still in concept stage, preliminary work on it has begun. The missile is going to be based on SFDR or Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet Technology.
The Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) has 3 phase propulsion regime of future ramjet BVR Air to air missiles which includes initial boost phase, mid-course phase and the end game phase. SFDR based propulsion enables missile to intercept aerial threats at very long range at supersonic speeds. It will be used in developing very long-range air to air missile with range more than 100KMs to 300kms.
DRDO has already completed the ground booster, nozzles booster performance and separation trials of SFDR technology. Now, DRDO is working towards the development of full-fledged missile. The most recent trial of the SFDR based missile was conducted by DRDO on 8th April 2022.
The Astra Mark-3 missile which be based on SFDR technology will have range in excess 300 km. The trial of Astra Mark-3 is expected in the year 2024.
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