India stages air missile test

BHUBANESWAR, Sept 13, 2008 (AFP) - India today carried out a successful test of a homemade air-to-air missile designed for its air force, defence sources said.

The Astra -- Hindi for weapon -- was fired from India's Integrated Testing Range at Chandipur-on-Sea, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) northeast of Orissa's state capital Bhubaneswar.

The single-stage solid-fuel missile can carry a 15 kilogramme (33 lbs) conventional warhead. "Astra belongs to the beyond-visual range class of missiles capable of ducking radar eyes and attacking enemy targets up to 80 kilometres," a defence official said on condition of anonymity.

India routinely conducts missile tests and has built a range of ballistic and cruise missiles as a deterrent to neighbours China and Pakistan.

It has fought three wars with Pakistan since their 1947 independence as well as a brief but bitter border war with China in 1962.

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