India’s new Tejas fighter will be armed with Israel’s Derby missile, according to Indian website LiveMint. The Derby is medium-range active-radar seeker air-to-air missile, that can hit targets at about 50 km. away. Missiles that can achieve this range are known by the acronym BVR – beyond visual range.
A contract for supplying the Derby will be signed by March with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Rafael will also fit the missiles on about 200 jets, according to P.S. Subramanya, director of India’s Aeronautical Development Agency, which is developing the light combat aircraft.
The Indian Air Force (known, like its Israeli counterpart, as the IAF) has ordered 40 Tejas fighters to be built. The Indian Air Force also wants 100 units of the Mk-II version of the fighter, and the navy wants 60 of the naval versions, Subramanya said.
The jet “recently obtained restricted initial operational clearance, with a full clearance targeted for December 2012,” LiveMint said. In order to obtain full clearance, the jets need to integrate a BVR missile – therefore, delivery of the missiles is expected in the second half of 2012.
India’s Sea Harrier jets carry Derby missiles. Rafael’s Python missile, closely related to the Derby, was also an option for the Tejas, Subramanya stated.
In the past decade, as the Muslim world grows more religious and bellicose, Israel has been forging ever-closer ties with natural allies that also face a Muslim threat. These include India and may soon include South Sudan.
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