Israel’s Derby missile is the weapon of choice for India’s Tejas fighter. A contract will be signed by March with Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd to supply the air-to-air weapon for the indigenous Indian jets. P.S. Subramanya, director of India’s Aeronautical Development Agency, which is developing the light combat aircraft. According to Subramanya, a key criterion for the full clearance is the integration of a Beyond-Visual-Range (BVR) missile. The Rafael Python V missile, closely related to the Derby, was also an option for the Tejas, Subramanya stated. Delivery of the missiles is expected in the second half of 2012, toward the final phase of testing, expected to conclude by December 2012.
Sofar the Indian Air Force (IAF) has ordered 40 Tejas planes and according to the government’s plans 160 additional jets are to be produced – 100 of the Mk-II version for the Air Force and 60 for the Indian Navy. India’s Sea Harrier jets already carry the Israeli Derby missiles, fourteen of them were recently upgraded, wired to operate the new missile. Both Derby and Python V are also selected to equip the Indian Air Force Short Range Surface/Air System (SRSAM) as part of Rafael’s Spyder air defense system.
While long-term plans were to deploy the locally produced Astra air/air missile with Tejas, the decision to go with a foreign missile was made last year to accelerate the induction of the aircraft into operational service. Astra, under development by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is “doing well” on ground tests, according nto Subramanya, will begin aerial tests o the Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter. The Astra is intended to have a range of about 80km.