Long range air-to-air 'Aastra' missile test within month

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New Delhi, Jul 16 (UNI) The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will test the beyond visual range air-to-air-combat missile 'Aastra' within a month.

DRDO sources said the missile would be test fired from the Sukhoi 30 MKI fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force.

The beyond visual range missile can lock on to enemy aircraft from ranges above 100 km.

The DRDO had already tested two test versions of the missile for which Rs 1000 crore have already been spent.

Sources pointed that the test assumes importance as the air version of the Indo-Russian Brahmos missile will be test fired from the Sukhoi platform in coming months. The 'Aastra' missile test will help scientists offer structural changes in the Sukhoi 30 aircraft to launch Brahmos from a hard point on its belly.

Astra is a state-of-the-art beyond visual range air to air missile (BVRAAM) designed for a range of over 80 km in head-on mode and 20 km in tail-chase mode. It can engage highly manoeuvring targets. The aim of the programme is to provide the Indian Air Force with an indigenously-designed BVRAAM to equip its Mirage 2000, MiG-29, Su-30MKI and the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas.

A model of the Astra missile was first shown to the public at Aero India '98, experts recall.

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