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New Delhi: With the indigenous beyond visual range air-to-air missile Astra set to be fired in public view for the first time, the Indian Air Force (IAF) expects to induct the high-tech weapon into its inventory next year.

The missile, which took more than a decade to develop, is undergoing trials which are likely to finish by the year end, an official from the IAF told IANS on condition of anonymity.


Astra will be on display at the IAF’s firepower demonstration Iron Fist in Pokhran, Rajasthan, on March 18, where a Sukhoi-30 MKI jet will fire the missile. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to witness the firepower demonstration.

According to scientists, the technology for this missile is more sophisticated than that of ballistic missile Agni, as it works on a terminal active radar-seeker and an updated mid-course internal guidance system that helps the missile in locating the target.

The seeker, said the official, was one reason why the missile, being developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), was delayed for so long.

“The trials are going on well and the missile has given a great performance,” the official said.

The missile can be fired from beyond visual range, honing in and locking on to the target with the help of the seeker. With high-energy propellant, it has the capability to follow it, despite complicated manoeuvres.

“The missile has given high performance, even intercepting a target which was making high-G manoeuvres in more than one trial,” the official said, adding this showed its enhanced capability.

The tests ahead include full configuration firing at actual manoeuvring targets that will mimic enemy fighters. The missile also has the critical ability to overcome jamming by hostile aircraft.

The Astra is a single-stage solid-propellant missile that is 3.57 m long and 178 mm in diameter, with a 154 kg launch weight and a 15 kg conventional explosive payload.

It has active radar terminal guidance, anti-electronic countermeasures features and smokeless propulsion.

The missile has been designed to engage high-speed targets at short range, up to 20 km in tail chase mode and long range, up to 80 km in head-on chase mode, according to the DRDO.

At sea level, it has a range of up to 20 km but has a range of 44 km if launched from an altitude of 8,000 meters and 80 km when fired from an altitude of 15,000 meters.

Except for failure in one test, the missile has completed all tests successfully. (IANS)


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Scientists temporarily attached a pig's kidney to a human body and watched it begin to work, a small step in the decades-long quest to one day use animal organs for lifesaving transplants.

Pigs have been the most recent research focus to address the organ shortage, but among the hurdles: A sugar in pig cells, foreign to the human body, causes immediate organ rejection. The kidney for this experiment came from a gene-edited animal, engineered to eliminate that sugar and avoid an immune system attack.

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Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Killer Smog in Delhi.

Developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, a Decision Support System (DSS) that extends the ability of the existing air quality early warning system (AQEWS) to have decision-making capability for air quality management in Delhi-NCR was launched on Tuesday.

The website for the DSS (https://ews.tropmet.res.in/dss/) is designed to help the Commission for Air Quality Management for NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) by delivering quantitative information about the contribution of emissions from Delhi and its 19 surrounding districts; the contribution of emissions from eight different sectors in Delhi; and the contribution from biomass-burning activities in the neighbouring states.

These information would assist in managing the air quality in a timely manner, a release from the Ministry of Earth Sciences said.

The need was stated by the CAQM, which was formed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, during a meeting held in January 2021.

Recently, the Commission reviewed the progress made by IITM and had in principle approved the current version of DSS for air quality management in the Delhi-NCR. The IITM has also developed a new website for DSS with the entire system made operational, the release said.

Union Minister of State for Earth Sciences, Jitendra Singh, while launching the website for AQEWS on the occasion of 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' week organised by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said, "DSS is a significant contribution to 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' on behalf of MoES and IITM and suggestions are invited on this issue."

The website also has a feature whereby the users can create their own emission reduction scenarios (from 20 different districts, including Delhi) so as to examine the possible projected improvement in air quality in Delhi for the next five days.

"This information would explicitly highlight the most important emission sources responsible for the degradation of air quality in Delhi and suggest possible solutions to ameliorate the same. With a plethora of quantitative data, the AQEWS integrated with DSS could become a user-friendly tool for air-quality management in and around Delhi," the release said. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Delhi, India, Pollution, IITM, Ministry of Earth Sciences


Photo by GOI.

On the first day of the two-day meeting of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders on Tuesday, discussions were held on important issues related to education and the National Education Policy-2020

On the first day of the two-day meeting of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders on Tuesday, discussions were held on important issues related to education and the National Education Policy-2020. Apart from senior RSS leader Suresh Soni, representatives of various organisations associated with the Sangh Parivar -- working in the field of education -- were present in the meeting in New Delhi.

According to sources, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who attended the meeting on behalf of the government, shared information related to the National Education Policy-2020 and the government's policy on important issues related to the education sector. Pradhan also shared details of the efforts being made by the government in the field of education.

Discussions were also held regarding the impact of the situation arising out of Corona and how much it has affected the education sector. In the meeting, the RSS leaders asked several questions and provided suggestions to the Union Minister regarding the education policy of the government.

According to the sources, RSS wants the policy to be implemented expeditiously. All aspects related to the policy were discussed in Tuesday's meeting. On the second and the last day of the meeting on Wednesday, special issues related to education will be discussed in which representatives of various organisations of the Sangh, Union Ministers and several BJP leaders will be take part.

Meanwhile, in order to convey its point of view to the government on various issues, the Sangh keeps on calling such coordination meetings related to specific issues, in which RSS representatives -- working in that particular area -- provide feedback to the government. (IANS/JB)


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