While the maiden test of the Python-5 short-ranged Close Combat Missile from the LCA-Tejas got the limelight, but careful foreplay with the words while also confirming recent testing of I-Derby Beyond Visual range air to air missile created more confusion on the news of a variant of the missile being tested. DRDO’s Press Release said, “Trials were also aimed to validate enhanced capability of already integrated Derby Beyond Visual Range (BVR) AAM on Tejas “.

I-Derby that Indian Air Force had procured for its Spyder-SR Air Defence System has a reported range of 40km in Air defense Interceptor role and 60km when launched from a fighter jet. In 2015, Israeli makers of the weapon system ” Rafael” had announced the development of an upgraded variant of the missile called I-Derby ER (Extended Range) that uses the same missile airframe as I-Derby but now comes with a Dual-Pulse motor along with a Software-Defined Radar seeker that now extended its range to over 100km.

Rafael calls I-Derby ER has a Plug and Play system for all existing aircraft that are already operating older I-Derby, including that for the Spyder-SR Air Defence that is also available with additional booster for 60km range when used as Air Defence Interceptor role. Rafael recently had announced that it has completed developmental trials of the I-Derby ER on the Spyder-SR Air Defence and Rafael was keen that same is also validated on a fighter jet for which it was ready to provide a Demo trial unit to India for trial and evaluation purpose without any Purchase commitment by India.

Now, this is where it gets interesting, DRDO has not confirmed what enhanced capability of Derby Beyond Visual Range (BVR) AAM was tested by Tejas. Was it the demo unit of I-Derby ER provided by the Rafael or it was an existing I-Derby that has been receiving several firmware updates for a full sphere of launch capability that opens up its flight profile further for enhanced capability from the launch aircraft, is still not clear.

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