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

It’s more or less now confirmed that India’s upgraded Tejas Mk1A fighter jet will be getting two new Air-to-Air missiles after one of the Israeli supplied Python-5 failed to get firing clearance due to unresolved inflight vibrations issues in its captive flight trials. Tejas Mk1A will also be getting locally developed Astra Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air missile along with MBDA developed ASRAAM within visual range (WVR) missiles.

Israeli supplied Derby BVRAAM missile has been successfully integrated and tested with the current lot of 40 Tejas Mk1 fighter jets but that won’t be enough since Derby BVRAAM missiles came from the unused stock of Indian Navy’s Sea Harrier jets which now have been retired from its fleet.

Israel has offered India its latest I-Derby ER BVRAAM with a range of 100km and has claimed that both ELA-2052 AESA Fire Control Radar (FCR) to be used on Tejas Mk1A and Indo-Israeli ELA-2032/MMR FCR are fully compatible with the new missile and has promised 80% of the operational performance of the Meteor air-to-air missiles at the fraction of the cost.

I-Derby ER BVRAAM which will be ordered for Su-30MKI and Tejas Mk1A will be interim front line BVRAAM till Astra Mk1 production is on high gear and will continue to act as a supplement to each other till India has enough Astra in its arsenal.

Issues with Python-5 integration with the LCA-Tejas Mk1 means that it is more or less has been dropped and instead, IAF has decided to make MBDA developed ASRAAM as a Standard within visual range (WVR) missiles for its entire fleet of fighter jets including Su-30MKI and Tejas Mk1A which interestingly will be supplemented by Russian R-73 WVR Missiles which already have been integrated with the Tejas Mk1 and will continue to be supplementary WVR AAM in the Tejas Mk1A also.

Four Unique Air-to-Air Missiles from four different makers not only makes Tejas Mk1A a unique fighter jet that has such diverse air to air missiles in its arsenal but it also makes it a quite deadlier for an adversary to engage and defect the missiles once it has been fired at it. It’s a pilot nightmare to engage and actively deploy countermeasures specific to the missile system and it’s even more difficult when the combo of AAMs are fired towards him.

i-Derby and R-73 integration have proved that two AAMs or different origins can work perfectly with one common Fire control Radar system and integration of indigenous Astra BVRAAMs will so not be a huge task and MBDA developed ASRAAM already has been integrated successfully with the same ELA-2052 AESA Fire Control Radar (FCR) on the Darin-III upgraded Jaguar Strike aircraft in the IAF fleet.

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