The indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft is now ready to carry the Israeli Python-5 air-to-air missile, said the DRDO on Wednesday, after the shortrange weapon was test-fired from the jet.
The fifth-generation infra-red guided Python-5 missiles, which have a range of around 20 km, will add to the air-to-air combat capability of Tejas.
The Israeli Derby beyond visual range missiles, with a 50-km range, had earlier been integrated with the fighter.
“The test-firing of the two missiles at Goa completed a series of trials to validate their performance under extremely challenging scenarios. The Derby missile achieved a direct hit on a high-speed manoeuvering aerial target. The Python missiles also achieved 100% hits, thereby validating their complete capability,” said a DRDO official.
Prior to the actual test-firings, extensive missile carriage flight tests were conducted at Bengaluru to assess the integration of the Python-5 with aircraft systems on board the Tejas, ranging from avionics and fire-control radars to missile weapon delivery and flight control systems.
“After successful separation trials at Goa, the live launch of the Python on a Banshee target was carried out. In all the live firings, the missile hit the aerial targets,” said the official.
The Indian Air Force is slated to induct 83 new Tejas, including 10 trainers, in the 2024-2028 timeframe under the Rs 46,898 crore deal inked with defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics in February this year. The 73 new Tejas Mark-1A jets will have 43 “improvements” over the 40 Mark-1 jets ordered by IAF earlier.