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.

The series of missile trials, conducted in the Indian state of Goa, validated its performance under extremely challenging scenarios.

Derby missile ‘achieved a direct hit on a high-speed manoeuvring aerial target’ while the Python missiles achieved 100% hits.

IAF Test pilots from the National Flight Test Centre (NFTC) flew the Aeronautical Development Agency’s (ADA) Tejas aircraft, from which the missiles were fired.

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated the teams of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the IAF, ADA, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and others involved.

Before these trials, ‘extensive missile carriage flight tests’ were conducted in Bengaluru to evaluate the integration of the missile with aircraft systems aboard the Tejas.

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).