India successfully tests air-to-air Astra missile
India on Saturday test-fired its indigenously developed air-to-air missile Astra from a military base in eastern Orissa state, a news report said.
The missile which is capable of carrying a 15-kilogram warhead, was test-fired at the Integrated Test Range in Chandipur, 230 kilometres north-east of state capital Bhubaneshwar, the PTI news agency reported.
Although the exact range of Saturday's trial was not disclosed, the missile has a range of up to 110 kilometres and is being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization, reported dpa.
Scientists are working to ensure that the Astra performs effectively at different altitudes - one cruising altitude of 15 kilometres with a 90-110-kilometre range, another of 9,144 metres and a range of 44 kilometres, and at sea level with a range of 30 kilometres.
After data analysis of the successful flight test, another test could be conducted in the next couple of days, defence sources told the PTI.
Astra, meaning weapon in Sanskrit, is an advanced long-range missile with a solid-propellant engine and advanced guidance equipment. It is capable of achieving speeds of around Mach 4, four times the speed of sound.
Defence scientists said the tests were being conducted to provide the Indian Air Force fighter jets with missiles operating beyond visual range, which are expected to be ready by 2012.
"Before being made fully operational, the complex missile system would undergo some more trials, though tests on its navigation, control, air frame, propulsion and other sub-systems have been validated," a defence research official told the PTI.