Astra missile Current Affairs - 2020

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DRDO to double ASTRA’s range

The DRDO Chief, Mr G Sateesh Reddy recently announced that DRDO (Defence Research Development Organization) is to increase the range of ASTRA air-to-air missiles. India is one of the few countries to own a successful BMD-Ballistic Missile Defence programme.

ASTRA

Astra (Sanskrit word for weapon) is an all-weather air-to-air missile developed completely by DRDO. Currently, ASTRA is capable of engaging targets upto a distance of 110 km. The ASTRA missiles are integrated with Sukhoi Su-30 MKI aircrafts of India.

Now, DRDO plans to increase the range of the missile to 160 km. Apart from this, it is also planning to infuse technologies like solid fuel ramjet and dual pulse solid rocket motor. There are also plans to integrate the missiles with other aircrafts like Dassault, MiG-29, HAL Tejas.

Ballistic Missile Defence Programme

The BMD is an initiative to develop multi-layered defence systems to protect India from missile attacks. The programme was introduced in the light of threats from China and Pakistan. Prithvi and Ashwin are the two most successful BMD missiles developed under the programme.

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LCA Tejas gets Final Operational Clearance

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has received the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) standard certification for Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas from Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The DRDO’s FOC certification testifies the combat-readiness of Tejas.

The Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) is a DRDO laboratory authorised to certify military aircraft and airborne systems. To get the final operational clearance, the aircraft must have battle-time capabilities of mid-air refuelling, AESA radar, electronic warfare suites, a variety of bombs and weapons, among others.

LCA Tejas

LCA Tejas is lightweight single-seat multi-role jet fighter powered by a single engine. It has tailless and compound delta wing design made entirely of composite structures. It is pegged as the world’s smallest and lightest supersonic fighter aircraft in its class.

LCA Tejas is first advanced fly-by-wire Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) designed, developed and manufactured indigenously by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) as part of LCA programme, started in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters. It was named ‘Tejas’, which means ‘radiance’, by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Advance Features

LCA Tejas is equipped with the quadruplex digital fly-by-wire flight control system to ease handling by the pilot. It also has a digital computer-based attack system and autopilot mode. It is also equipped with the satellite-aided Inertial Navigation System.

Stealth Features

It has many features of stealth fighter aircraft. Its radar cross section is very less compared to other aircrafts like MiG-29, F-16 due to its small size and extensive usage of carbon composites.  It incorporates a glass cockpit in which the pilot is fed with real-time information. It also has open architecture software for avionics which can be easily updated as and when required.

Range

It has a limited reach of little over 400-km and will be mainly used for close air-to-ground operations (unlike Russian-origin Sukhoi-30MKIs or Rafale which have deep strike capability into enemy territory due to their long range).

Weaponry

It can fire air-to-air missiles, carry bombs and precision guided ammunition. DRDO has successfully tested fired Tejas with different kinds of weaponry and missiles including R-73 air-to-air missile, bomb dropping (including laser-guided bombs). DRDO also plans test firing of indigenous Astra missile from the Tejas.

Operations

LCA Tejas had commenced operations from Sulur Air Force Station in Tamil Nadu in July 2018, two years after it was formally inducted into IAF. The fighter jet is part of ‘Flying Daggers’ of 45 Squadron of IAF. Southern Air Command based in Kerala capital Thiruvananthapuram has been entrusted with the responsibility of integrating fighter aircraft in IAF’s concept of operations.

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