In the last two weeks, India has
conducted three successful tests of its Astra radar guided air-to-air missile.
This comes four years after the first test. Back in 2003, after five years of
effort, an Astra missile was launched from the ground, to test its solid fuel
rocket. The 12.5 foot long missile weighs over 400 pounds, has a 33 pound
warhead and a range of up to a hundred kilometers.
India already has missiles like this; the French
Matra 530D and the Russian AA-10C and AA-12. The Astra appears to have borrowed
a lot of ideas from the Matra and AA-12 missiles. The U.S. equivalent is the
AMRAAM. India has spent nearly $200 million developing Astra. While it would be
cheaper to continue buying more AA-12s from Russia, India is intent on
developing its own high-tech arms industries. The Indians have discovered that
this takes time. They can also observe Chinas rocky road to building a domestic
weapons industry. Projects like Astra are more of an investment in the future,
than a less expensive way to obtain high-tech weapons.