India tests air-to-air Astra missile for second time

( dpa ) - India on Sunday successfully test-fired its indigenously developed air-to-air missile Astra from a defence base in eastern Orissa state for the second time in two days, a news report said.

The beyond-visual range missile which is capable of evading the radar and attacking enemy targets up to 110 kilometres was test-fired at the Integrated Test Range in Chandipur, the PTI news agency reported.

The test was conducted after an analysis of data generated from Saturday's flight trial from the same base in order to further validate all major parameters, defence sources told the PTI.

The missile is being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization, Astra, meaning weapon in Sanskrit, is an advanced long-range missile with a solid-propellant engine and advanced guidance equipment.

It is capable of carrying a 15-kilogram warhead and 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.

Although the exact range of trials were not disclosed, scientists are working to ensure that the Astra performs effectively at different altitudes - one cruising at an altitude of 15 kilometres with a 90-110-kilometre range, another of 9,144 metres and a range of 44 kilometres, and the third sea level with a range of 30 kilometres.

Some more trials will be conducted before the missile system is made fully operational, though tests on its navigation, control, air-frame, propulsion and other sub-systems have been validated.

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