India’s Hindustan Aeronautics-built Tejas Mk I fighter has successfully destroyed a towed target with an infrared (IR) homing missile.

The test was held over the Indian Ocean near the city of Goa , says India’s ministry of defence in a statement. The target was towed by a Lakshya pilotless target drone that was launched from a warship.

The ministry did not specify the type of missile used in the test, but it was likely the Russian-made R-73 air-to-air missile. A Tejas conducted the first live firing of this weapon in November 2010.

The Tejas received its initial operational clearance (IOC) in early 2011. In May 2013, after two more years of flight tests, India defence minister AK Antony said the aircraft could achieve its final operational clearance (FOC) with the Indian air force by the end of 2014.

In May 2011, industry sources told Flightglobal that Israel’s Rafael had entered a contract with India to integrate its Derby medium-range air-to-air missiles with the Tejas.

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.

Officials of the Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which developed the Tejas, are also working on a Tejas Mk II variant, which will be powered by the General Electric F414 engine. The Mk I is powered by the less powerful F404.

The Tejas programme, first envisaged as a replacement for the Mikoyan MiG-21 in the 1980s, has suffered decades of delays and numerous technological challenges.