MoD Deal with BDL for procurement of ASTRA Mk I
MoD announces over Rs 2,900 crore contract with BDL for the purchase of ASTRA Mk I Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile System and Associated Equipment for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.
In a major boost to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, the Ministry of Defence, on May 31, 2022, signed a contract with Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) for the supply of ASTRA MK-I Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Air to Air Missile (AAM) and associated equipment for the Indian Air Force & Indian Navy at a cost of Rs 2,971 crore under Buy (Indian-IDDM) category.
Until recently, the technology to produce missiles of this kind in-house was unavailable. The ASTRA MK-I BVR AAM was indigenously designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) based on Staff Requirements provided by the Indian Air Force (IAF) to accommodate for Beyond Visual Range as well as Close Combat Engagement, minimising reliance on foreign suppliers. Air to Air missiles with BVR capabilities enable enormous Stand-Off Ranges to own fighter aircraft, allowing them to neutralise opponent aircraft without exposing themselves to adversary Air Defence systems, achieving and sustaining air supremacy. This missile outperforms several foreign missile systems in terms of technology and cost.
Procurement of ASTRA Mk I
DRDO collaborated with the IAF to develop the ASTRA MK-I missile and its related equipment for launch, ground handling, and testing. The missile, for which the IAF has previously conducted successful trials, is completely integrated on the Su 30 MK-I fighter aircraft and will be phased integrated with additional fighter aircraft, including the Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas). The missile will be integrated into the Indian Navy’s MiG 29K fighter aircraft.
The technology transfer from DRDO to BDL for the manufacturing of the ASTRA MK-I missile and all related systems has been completed, and production at BDL is currently underway. This project will serve as a catalyst for the growth of BDL’s infrastructure and testing facilities. It would also provide prospects for various MSMEs in aeronautical technology over a 25-year timeframe. The initiative symbolises the ethos of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ and will aid in the country’s march toward self-reliance on Air to Air Missiles.