Indian Air Force inducts Astra BVRAAM missile

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is inducting the new Astra Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile. India is also integrating the Israeli I-Derby Extended Range missile on its Su-30MKI combat aircraft. These new missiles will help to enhance the IAF's air-to-air engagement capability.

Indian Air Force inducting Astra BVRAAM missile

Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter firing an Astra BVRAAM (Picture source: IAF)

These deployments come after the Balakot strike that saw Indian aircraft cross the Line of Control with Pakistan to attack terrorist camps. A dogfight ensured between Indian and Pakistani fighter aircraft. The Pakistani aircraft were equipped with the AIM-120C-5 AMRAAM, which outranged the R-77 and MICA missiles used by India.

India said its strike capability was superior to Pakistan's during the Kargil War, but this situation has since changed. To help correct this deficiency, India is procuring the European-made Meteor BVRAAM. This missile will arm India's new Rafale fighters. In addition, India is working on an improved version of Astra. This version will offer a range comparable to the Meteor's one.

Astra is an all-weather beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). It is the first air-to-air missile developed by India. It features mid-course inertial guidance with terminal active radar homing. Astra is designed to be capable of engaging targets at varying ranges and altitudes allowing for engagement of both short-range targets at a distance of 20 km (12 mi) and long-range targets up to a distance of 80–110 km (50–68 mi). Astra has been integrated with Indian Air Force's Sukhoi Su-30MKI and is now integrated with the brand new Dassault Rafales. Limited series production of Astra missiles began in 2017.