India's Tejas fighter to get Derby missiles

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A contract to integrate Rafael's Derby medium-range air-air missile with India's Tejas light combat aircraft will be signed soon, according to industry sources.

Delivery of the missiles is expected from the second half of 2012, following the final phase of integration tests that are planned for early next year.

The active radar- and infrared-guided Derby, which provides an all-weather, beyond visual-range capability, has previously been acquired for the Indian navy's British Aerospace-built Sea Harrier FRS51 fighters. Fourteen aircraft have been modified to use the weapon, said Indian sources.

tejas, aeronautical development agency
 © Aeronautical Development Agency
India's air force has signed for 40 production examples of the single-engined Tejas

The Derby missile can be fired in lock-on before launch mode for short-range engagements, or in lock-on after launch mode for use against medium-range targets.

India's air force has so far signed for 40 production examples of the single-engined Tejas, but the service could eventually acquire up to 100 more in an improved Mk II configuration. The service is now evaluating more Israeli-made systems for the fighter, including additional weapons.

The Indian navy also could buy 60 of the Aeronautical Development Agency-designed Tejas.

The Derby contract is an example of the huge potential market that Rafael is trying to exploit in India. Company sources have described the nation as its current first priority, due to the size and diversity of its requirements.