Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Astra Missile Test-fire Fail

A fresh trial of beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAM) Astra was deferred on Monday, reportedly, due to a technical snag. The missile could not be launched though an unmanned aerial vehicle which was to be used as a target for the missile was flown from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) off Odisha coast.

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Defence sources said the missile was initially planned to be tested on March 12 but was rescheduled for Monday. A defence official associated with the mission said though the pilotless target aircraft (PTA) was flown as per schedule, the missile could not be fired due to technical glitches in the system.

ITR Director MVKV Prasad said there is a possibility of the trial either on Tuesday or Wednesday.

As part of induction phase trials, the test was aimed at checking the control system and its stability which would have propelled its quick induction into the Armed forces.

However, it is not for the first time that the missile has developed problem. In 2011, the missile had failed twice but in 2012 and 2014, a series of developmental tests, captive flights and trials from fighter aircraft was successful.

On May 20, 2011 the missile had fallen down immediately after it took off from a ground launcher. Next day, though the scientists associated with the project had rectified the glitches, the missile did not perform as expected. The weapon system got disintegrated mid-air after attaining a certain height. On June 20 last year, Astra was test-fired successfully from fighter aircraft Su-30MKI by the Air Force from a Naval range off Goa coast.

The indigenously developed Astra is designed for an 80-km range in head-on mode and 20 km-range in tail-chase mode. A complex missile can intercept fast-moving aerial targets at supersonic speed of 1.2 to 1.4 Mach. As an anti-aircraft missile, it can be fired after receiving a signal from a far away target through its onboard manoeuvres based on radio frequency.

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