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India’s ASTRA Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile Missile Poised For Global Export Expansion

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India’s ASTRA Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile Missile Poised For Global Export Expansion


The Astra missile is an air-to-air missile that has attracted global attention. India’s Bharat Dynamics Limited aims to become a global leader in missile and weapon system manufacturing. India has also started the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) to become self-reliant in missile development.

Self-reliance in air launched missiles and particularly in Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) system is of strategic importance considering the new paradigm of air superiority warfare, and with the service entry of indigenous hypersonic (Mach 4 plus) Active-Radar Homing (ARH) Astra BVRAAM India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) seems to have produced a missile that is arguably capable of matching or outmatching similar class of missiles of United States, Russian and European origin. Astra is technologically and economically superior to many such imported missiles.

Export Potential

With the Sukhoi Su-27 “Flanker” in operation with several Air Forces around the world and the successful completion of multiple tests from IAF’s Sukhoi Su-30MKI (variant of the Su-27 “Flanker”) jets, it can therefore be conjectured that foreign operators would be interested in integrating this sophisticated missile on their Russian origin fighter jets. The Russia-Ukraine war has aggravated the supply chain of weapons and parts to these operators. The export potential is present but the DRDO should scale up production and maintain strict quality control to not only cater to both the domestic and foreign markets. The Astra now has significant indigenous components which are manufactured locally and this could help the country to export the missiles in large number without much hindrance and the Indian missile would be much cheaper to procure and operate for these Air Forces.

Countries that operate the Su-27/Su-30 have been reported to have expressed keen interest to procure that Astra MK-1 missiles, these include staunch allies like Vietnam and Armenia, and few dodgy ones like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Algeria.

Moreover, the recent surge in India’s arms sales to Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines and Indonesia, points to New Delhi’s desire to become a key arms supplier in a bid to stem China’s growing assertiveness in the region.

Indigenous Drive of Astra BVRAAM

The Astra MK-1 is a Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organization. It’s capable of engaging targets at ranges of 37 km or more, with an operational range of 60 km.  The Astra MK-1 has a maximum head-on launch range of 100 km, a speed of 4.5 Mach, and launch clearance up to 20 km in height.  It can be launched by the mother aircraft or fired in buddy mode.

As part of induction phase trial the missile was tested on 18 March 2015 from an Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter against a simulated live target to verify the control system and missile stability during flight. The prototype of the missile was first tested during on 9 May 2003 from the Integrated Test Range (ITR). On 27 March 2007, vertical launch of the missile was carried out, suggesting the development of a Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) variant. Following further tests dual mode guidance was fully proved during May 2009 followed by captive flight tests on a Sukhoi Su-30MKI were carried out near Pune in November when several sorties were conducted. The series of numerous tests initiated on 20 May 2011 and focussed on evaluating the performance of the smokeless non-metallised high specific impulse propulsion system, rocket motor, and the configurations of the vehicle and aero-dynamics evaluation with the missile incorporating significant changes and incorporating advanced technologies in due course.

The all-important seeker was initially provided by Russian Agat with an autonomous homing range of 25-km plus enabled off-boresight launches up to an angle of 45-degrees and produced in India through a total transfer-of-technology process. As a further step towards indigenisation and self-reliance, on 15 September 2017 Astra BVRAAM was test fired from a Sukhoi Su-30MKI with an indigenous Ku-band pulse Doppler radar seeker developed by Research Centre Imarat (RCI). With an antenna diameter of 140-mm and weight of 12.5-kg the lock on range is well in excess of 12-km and gimbal angles of plus/minus 55-degrees. The same indigenous seeker is also set to arm the Akash-1S Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) variant and also QRSAM.

Today it is very much evident that the ambitious program has achieved significant milestones in the arena of technical brilliance and self-reliance.





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INS Arihant’s Nuke-Capable K-4 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile ‘Ready To Roll’

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INS Arihant’s Nuke-Capable K-4 Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile ‘Ready To Roll’


NEW DELHI: India tested its nuclear capable K-4 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), designed to have a strike range of 3,500 km, for the second time in six days on Friday. The missile test, as the one conducted on January 19, was undertaken from an undersea platform in the shape of a submersible pontoon off the coast of Andhra Pradesh according to a report by Rajat Pandit of TOI.

The solid-fuelled K-4 missile is being developed by DRDO to arm the country’s nuclear-powered submarines in the shape of INS Arihant and its under-development sister vessels. INS Arihant, which became fully operational in November 2018 to complete India’s nuclear triad, is currently armed with the much shorter K-15 missiles with a 750 km range.

“The K-4 is now virtually ready for its serial production to kick-off. The two tests have demonstrated its capability to emerge straight from underwater and undertake its parabolic trajectory,” said a source.

India has the land-based Agni missiles, with the over 5,000-km Agni-V inter-continental ballistic missile now in the process of being inducted, and fighter jets jury-rigged to deliver nuclear weapons. But INS Arihant gives the country’s deterrence posture much more credibility because nuclear-powered submarines armed with nuclear-tipped missiles are considered the most secure, survivable and potent platforms for retaliatory strikes.

Once the K-4 missiles are inducted, they will help India narrow the gap with countries like the US, Russia and China, which have over 5,000-km range SLBMs. The K-4 missiles are to be followed by the K-5 and K-6 missiles in the 5,000-6,000 km range class.

The 6,000-ton INS Arihant, which is propelled by an 83 MW pressurised light-water reactor at its core, in turn, is to be followed by INS Arighat, which was launched in 2017. The next generation of nuclear submarines, currently called S-4 and S-4*, will be much larger in size.





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After Upgradation, Sukhoi Su-30MKI Indigenisation To Reach 78%

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After Upgradation, Sukhoi Su-30MKI Indigenisation To Reach 78%


India has received clearance to upgrade 84 Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets, which will result in 78% indigenization after the upgrade

In a significant step towards bolstering its military might with indigenously developed technology, India is poised to witness its Russian-origin Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jets evolve into a domestic platform. Speaking at a recent lecture.

The upgrade program is being led by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in partnership with the Indian Air Force and other partners. The upgrade is expected to cost US$7.5 billion.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) granted Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for the upgrade. The upgrade is part of India’s efforts to improve the capabilities of its primary fighter aircraft, it refers to as the “Super Sukhoi”.

This initiative is a part of a larger effort by the Indian Air Force to modernize its ageing fleet. Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari asserted the critical role of an offensive air force as demonstrated in current global conflicts and emphasized India’s move towards an indigenized arsenal. To this end, the IAF has been proactive, from upgrading its Mirage 2000 to enhancing its MiG-29 fleet.

In summary, the IAF’s commitment to updating their combat forces with the latest technology, including shifting to fifth-generation fighter jets, ensures operational preparedness and a strong deterrence capability. The gradual indigenization of its air fleet marks a pivotal shift in India’s defence landscape, reducing dependency on foreign imports and fostering technological sovereignty.





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Akash Weapon System Exports For The Armenian Armed Forces Gathers Pace

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Akash Weapon System Exports For The Armenian Armed Forces Gathers Pace


According to unconfirmed reports, Armenia is a top contender for an export order for Akash SAM system manufactured by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).

While there is no official confirmation because of the sensitivities involved, documents suggest that the order for the same has already been placed the report further added.
There are nine countries, in turn, which have shown interest in the indigenously-developed Akash missile systems, which can intercept hostile aircraft, helicopters, drones and subsonic cruise missiles at a range of 25-km. They are Kenya, Philippines, Indonesia, UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Vietnam and Algeria reported TOI.

The Akash export version will also be slightly different from the one inducted by the armed forces. The 100-km range air-to-air Astra missiles, now entering production after successful trials from Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, also have “good export potential”, said sources.

Akash is a “tried, tested and successfully inducted systems”. Indian armed forces have ordered Akash systems worth Rs 24,000 crore over the years, and MoD inked a contract in Mar 2023 of over Rs 9,100 crores for improved Akash Weapon System

BDL is a government enterprise under the Ministry of Defence that was established in 1970. BDL manufactures surface-to-air missiles and delivers them to the Indian Army. BDL also offers its products for export.

Akash Weapon System

The AWS is a Short Range Surface to Air Missile (SRSAM) Air Defence System, indigenously designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). In order to meet aerial threats, two additional Regiments of AWS with Upgradation are being procured for Indian Army for the Northern borders. Improved AWS has Seeker Technology, Reduced Foot Print, 360° Engagement Capability and improved environmental parameters.

The project will give a boost to the Indian missile manufacturing industry in particular and the indigenous defence manufacturing ecosystem as a whole. The project has overall indigenous content of 82% which will be increased to 93% by 2026-27.

The induction of the improved AWS into the Indian Army will increase India’s self-reliance in Short Range Missile capability. This project will play a role in boosting the overall economy by avoiding outgo of precious foreign exchange to other countries, increasing employment avenues in India and encouraging Indian MSMEs through components manufacturing. Around 60% of the project cost will be awarded to the private industry, including MSMEs, in maintaining the supply chain of the weapon system, thereby creating large scale of direct and indirect employment.





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