The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas has been cleared to carry the fifth generation Python-5 air-to-air missile (AAM) as part of its air-to-air weapons capability.
According to the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD), the decision to allow Tejas to carry the missile follows a series of trials aimed at validating Derby beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) on Tejas.
“Tejas added the 5th generation Python-5 air-to-air missile in its air-to-air weapons capability on Tuesday. Trials were also aimed to validate enhanced capability of already integrated Derby beyond visual range AAM on Tejas,” said an official.
He said the test firing at Goa completed a series of missile trials to validate performance of the aircraft under extremely challenging scenarios.
“Derby missile achieved direct hit on a high speed maneuvering aerial target and the Python missiles also achieved 100 per cent hits, thereby validating their complete capability. The trials met all their planned objectives,” the official said.
Prior to these trials, extensive missile carriage flight tests were conducted at Bengaluru to assess the integration of the missile with the aircraft systems onboard the Tejas.
“Python-5 missile live firing was conducted to validate target engagement from all aspects as well as beyond visual ranges. In all the live firings, missiles hit the aerial target,” the official said.
The Python-5 from Rafael Advanced Defence Systems is designed to engage very short range and near-BVR targets.
It has high resistance against countermeasures and can be deployed on a wide range of aircraft such as F-15, F-16, Mirage, Saab Gripen and Su-30MKI.
The missile is equipped with a new dual waveband focal plane array (FPA) imaging seeker, inertial navigation system, and advanced infrared counter-countermeasures (IRCCM).
Tejas, manufactured by state-run aerospace behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, is a single-engine and highly agile multi-role supersonic fighter aircraft capable of operating in high-threat air environments.
The aircraft is a potent platform for air combat and offensive air support missions while reconnaissance and anti-ship operations are its secondary roles.
In February, the government sealed a Rs 48,000 crore deal with the HAL to procure 83 Tejas light combat aircraft in the biggest-ever indigenous defence procurement program.