LA Tejas Pyhton 5 tests

LCA Tejas: 1. Python-5, 2. I-Derby ER….. 3.Meteor?

-Raghu Varier

On 28th April, 2021, India test fired python-5 and I-derby ER from LCA Tejas. This marks a significant enhancement in the BVR capabilities of LCA Tejas. The test firing was conducted in Goa. Both the missiles hit highly maneuvaerable targets witn 100% accuracy. Last year during the Galwan stand-off, India had purchased I-derby missiles from Israel under emergency mode.

As usual, let us first look at the specifications of each missile.

Python-5

Python-5 is one of the most advanced WVRAAM in the world. It is built by Israeli Rafael system. Basic specifications are as follows:

  • Type: WVRAAM / CCM
  • Length: 310 cm
  • Span: 64 cm
  • Diameter: 16 cm
  • Weight: 105 kg
  • Guidance: IR + electro-optical imaging
  • Warhead: 11 kg
  • Range: >20 km (35 km as per some reports)
  • Speed: Mach 4

The high supersonic speed of Mach 4 and the BVR capability makes Python-5 a lethal weapon. It provides the pilot with what is called as full sphere launch capability as shown below.

With 18 control surfaces, it has a very high maneuverable capability. With IR homing, a dual waveband Focal Plane Array (FPA) seeker for electro-optical imaging guidance and the facility of LOAL (Lock On After Launch), this missile literally is immune to infra-red counter measure systems. It also has sophisticated algorithms that enable the acquisition of small low signature targets in look-down, adverse background and cloudy environments. Hence this missile can be launched from very short ranges and in close combat with greater kill probablity. This clearly means that if one considers a dogfight scenario, Tejas has an upper hand against any opposition aircraft.

This successful test means that the previous issues of structural vibrations on integration have been resolved. Hence with greater kill probability, excellent resistance to counter measures and evasive target manouevers, this missile has enhanced the capability of LCA Tejas.

I-Derby ER

Extended range I-Derby like the name suggests, is a variant of the Derby missile with its range extended upto 100 km. The RF seeker and fuse have been infused together thereby providing the space to make it a missile with dual pulse solid rocket motor. The secondary pulse motor starts as the missile is close to target and it serves the purpose of extending the flight time. This provides it with a significant long range interception capability. Let us look at its specifications.

  • Type: BVRAAM
  • Length: 362 cm
  • Span: 64 cm
  • Diameter: 16 cm
  • Weight: 118 kg
  • Guidance: Active Radar
  • Warhead: 23 kg
  • Range: 100 km (as per Rafael Systems)
  • Speed: Mach 4

The RF seeker incorporates solid-state technology and it is ‘software defined’. This means every single functional parameter can be controlled using the software, thereby enabling full flexibility. It has look-down/shoot-down capability, sophistical LOBL (Lock On before Launch) and LOAL (Lock On After Launch) modes of operation. It has multi-shot capability and can be launched in all-weather conditions, day or night. I-Derby ER provides a robust and high performance advanced electronic counter counter-measures (ECCM).

Among India’s adversaries, Pakistan will be using dual pulse PL-15 in JF-17 Block 3 whereas China already has PL-15 integrated to its fighters.

Meteor possibility

Meteor BVRAAM is an active radar guided beyond-visual-range air-to-air  missile (BVRAAM) being developed by MBDA. Meteor will … | Spaceship  concept, Aircraft, Meteor

The Metoer BVRAAM which comes in the Rafale package (upcomingRafale of Golden Arrows and Falcons: Part-2 will have complete details of Meteor). When LCA Tejas will be integrated with Uttam AESA radar, Meteor can also be integrated. There have been many speculations about this. And should such an integration happen, then Tejas will be much more deadlier for Pakistan and China to deal with.

These successful missile tests have enhanced not only improved the close combat and long range capabilities of the Indian Air Force but also that of LCA Tejas; providing it an edge over other fighters in its category.

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Do check out our previous article on Tejas-Astra Mk1 integration and whether Astra Mk2 can be a desi alternative to Meteor

By Alpha Defense

Alpha Defense initially a solo venture but now a defense group by people from various demographics of India covering defense news and updates. We believe in unbiased analysis of every subject in hand. Our mission is to provide simplfiied defense information to the public.

3 thoughts on “LCA Tejas: 1. Python-5, 2. I-Derby ER ….. 3.Meteor?”
      1. Asram is foreign missile. Also there is no authentic news that India has indeed procured ‘er’ version of derby, do we have a source for this. Thanks in advance.
        Srini

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