Python-5 air-to-air missile test-fired successfully from LCA Tejas

Published : April 29, 2021 12:34 IST

The Python-5 missile being test-fired from the Tejas.

India’s indigenously designed and developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas has added the 5th generation Python-5 air-to-air missile (AAM) to its repertoire of air-to-air weapons capabilities. The Python-5 missile was test-fired from a Tejas aircraft of the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the designers and development agency of the Tejas, and flown by Indian Air Force test pilots attached to the National Flight Test Centre (NFTC), Bengaluru.

The successful firing of the missile completes the full complement of air-to-air missiles that needed to be test-fired from Tejas. “This is a proud moment since the Tejas’ full air-to-air arsenal is now on board,” said an ADA official.

In a series of test-firing trials that were conducted off the coast of Goa and concluded on April 27, a live launch of the Israeli-manufactured missile on to a ‘manoeuvering’ banshee target was carried out with a 100 per cent success rate. Officials in the know said that the Python-5 missile live firings were “conducted to validate target engagement from all aspects as well as beyond visual range”. They added that in all the live firings, the missile hit the ‘manoeuvring’ aerial target.

The Python-5 is capable of ‘lock-on after launch’ (LOAL) and has full-sphere/all-direction (including rearward) attack capability.

Prior to the live firing trials, extensive missile carriage flight tests were conducted in Bengaluru to assess integration of the missile with various aircraft systems on board the Tejas, such as the avionics, fire-control radar, missile weapon delivery system and the flight control system. In Goa, a successful completion of separation trials preceded the live launch of the missile.

The live trials were also aimed at validating the enhanced capability of the already integrated ‘Derby (Alto) beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile (AAM) on Tejas. The test firing in Goa completed a series of missile trials to validate the ‘Derby’ missile’s performance under extremely challenging scenarios. The missile, developed by the Israeli defence company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, achieved a direct hit on a high-speed manoeuvring aerial target, thereby validating its complete capability.

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