The Indian Air Force test launched a new air-to-air beyond visual range missile from a Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) last week, according to a May 12 Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) press release. The test firing occurred at the Chandipur Integrated Test Range (ITR) in the Indian state of Odisha.
The pilot of the LCA released the Derby air-to-air missile — a beyond visual range (BVR) missile developed by Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems with an estimated speed of Mach 4 and range of over 50 kilometers — in guided mode. “The missile launch was performed in Lock ON after Launch mode for a BVR target in the look down mode and the target was destroyed,” the statement reads.
The missile features a fire-and-forget engagement capability. “The objective of the test was to assess the Derby integration with aircraft systems on board Tejas, including the aircraft avionics, fire-control radar, launchers and missile weapon delivery system and to verify its performance,” according to the Indian MoD.
“A safe separation was followed by missile guidance towards RADAR acquired target. The flawless launch was demonstrated with all on-board systems performing satisfactorily and the missile scored a direct hit on the target with complete destruction of it. The test firing achieved all its planned objectives,” the statement read. “The Derby firing is a major step towards clearing BVR capabilities on LCA aircraft for FOC [full operational capability].”
The Tejas LCA is a supersonic, single-seat, single-engine multirole light fighter aircraft, which has been under development since 1983 by the Aeronautical Development Agency in cooperation with Indian state-owned military aircraft maker Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The LCA was developed to replace the IAF’s aging fleet of MiG-21 and MiG-23 aircraft with a domestically designed and produced light fighter jet.
As I explained elsewhere:
The Indian Air Force intends to induct a total of 123 Tejas Mark-IA aircraft. In November 2016, the Indian MoD cleared the purchase of a first batch of 83 Mark-IA LCAs. The IAF is also currently slated to receive 40 Tejas Mark-I aircraft by early 2018.
Furthermore, I explained (See: “India’s Newest Fighter Jet Completes Maiden Flight”):
The Mark-I variant (…) suffered from a number of technical shortfalls, according to a May 2015 report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India — the Indian government’s principal oversight body — including inadequate electronic warfare capabilities, problems with the on board radar system, and reduced internal-fuel capacity.
The Mark-IA variant of the LCA will correct the aircraft’s technical shortcoming outlined May 2015 CAG report.