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SOURCE: ANITA DESAI / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

Selection of Israeli developed Elta ELM-2052 Active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar for the upgraded Tejas Mk1A fighter aircraft means that it will be nearly impossible for India to ever opt to integrate Meteor active radar-guided beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) due to the restriction imposed by the European countries on the missile manufacturer MBDA, which severally restricts it from integrating its Meteor BVRAAM with Israeli Radars thus affecting India’s Tejas Mk1A (83) and Tejas Mk1 (40) fleet.

Elta ELM-2052 which also has been integrated into IAF’s Jaguar Strike-bomber fleet was obviously chosen for upcoming Tejas Mk1A due to past association with the ELTA and the Radar, but also since it emerged the lowest bidder among various AESA Radar manufactures which had responded to the tender floated by HAL.

Meteor BVRAAM is powered by a ramjet propulsion which provides its unmatched high-speed performance and increased energy to defeat fast, moving targets at a very long range, thus also making it one of the most advanced and dangerous BVRAAM missile presently available for any combat aircraft.

Tejas Mk1A fleet missing out on Worlds deadliest BVRAAM might be considered as a setback for the worlds smallest Air-Defence fighter aircraft but it was a well-calculated move which top management of the Indian Air Force was fully aware of and it had cheaper options available at the fraction of the cost which could still make Tejas Mk1A fighter aircraft as effective as any other aircraft equipped with Meteor BVRAAM.

Israeli developed I-Derby ER Beyond Visual Range (BVR) active radar-guided air-to-air missile which is already on offer to India could be as effective and deadly as Meteor BVRAAM. I-Derby ER is an evolutionary version of the Derby BVR missile which already has been integrated into Tejas Mk1 and required little or no major upgrades to the aircrafts Avionics and Mission control computers to use the new upgraded missile system.

I-Derby ER now comes with beyond 100 km range and is equipped with new seeker, which is lighter and more compact than its predecessor. A major feature of the I-Derby ER BVRAAM is that it now comes with a new second mode (kick) which allows the missile to accelerate at the terminal phase of the flight and operates independently of the primary rocket propulsion as it is activated at any time during the fight, by the flight control system.

The second pulse would likely kick in when the missile is closing on its target, accelerating it and increasing its kinematic envelope, thus increasing its “no escape zone”. According to missile manufacture ” RAFAEL”, I-Derby ER can deliver close to 80% of the performance of the Meteor BVRAAM at the fraction of the cost and it much cheaper to integrate and maintain due to its close similarity with its predecessor which IAF operates.

Astra BVRAAM developed by India’s DRDO is the second air-to-air missile which will make it to the entire Tejas Mk1A in near future. Astra Missile already has been cleared for operation from IAF’s front-line fighter aircraft like Sukhoi-Su30MKI and once in mass production will also be integrated into other fighter aircraft like Tejas Mk1A , Mig-29 and Mirage-2000.

Astra BVRAAM supplemented by I-Derby ER on a Tejas Mk1A aircraft in Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Scenario is still a deadly combo which even most modern fighter aircraft from rival camp will try to avoid confronting. Ongoing development of Astra-2 and Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) Beyond visual range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) will ensure that Tejas Mk1A, Tejas Mk2 or beyond will always have reliable and powerful BVRAAMs under its wings to fight the next-generation aerial war.

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