Context: MoD signs 2971 crore rupees contract with BDL for supply of ASTRA MK-I Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile for IAF and Indian Navy.

Key Points :

  1. The Astra Mk-1 is a beyond visible range (BVR), air-to-air missile (AAM). 
  2. BVM missiles are able to engage beyond the range of 20 nautical miles or 37 kilometres. 
  3. AAMs are fired from an airborne asset to damage an airborne target. 
  4. The Astra project was formally launched during the early 2000s and around 2017, the development phase of the Mk-1 model was complete. 
  5. The missile is completely incorporated on the Sukhoi 30 MKI I and will be incorporated with different fighter jets in a phased manner, along with Tejas and the Mig-29K of the Navy.
  6. The Astra Mk-1 has been designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation with range of 110 Km speed in excess of Mach 4 

Significance of the Deal :

  1. Push for Atma Nirbhar Bharat: 
    1. The Ministry of Defence stated that till now, the technology to fabricate missiles of this elegance indigenously was not available. 
    2. The Ministry stated the transfer of technology from DRDO to Bharat Dynamics Ltd. will create possibilities for numerous MSMEs in aerospace technology for at least 25 years. 
    3. More than 50 private and public industries, along with the IAF and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), have contributed in constructing the Astra systems. 
  2. Strategic Significance: 
  1. The missile has been designed primarily based totally on requirements specified by the IAF for BVR in addition to close-combat engagement, decreasing the dependency on foreign Countries / sources. 
  2. AAMs with BVR capability offer massive stand-off ranges to fighter jets which can neutralise adversary airborne assets without exposing themselves to adversary air defence measures. 
  3.  Stand-off range means the missile is launched at a distance enough to allow the attacking side to evade defensive fire from the target. 
  4. The MoD has stated that Astra is technologically and economically advanced to many such imported missile systems.

Way Forward : 

  • These types of deals will act as catalysts for the development and self-reliance in the sector of Defence Infrastructure of India.