Douglas Barrie/LONDON

ISRAELI MISSILE producer Rafael has received defence-ministry approval to offer Romania its still-classified Python 4 infra-red (IR)-guided air-to-air missile, in an attempt to overturn a Romanian decision to buy the Matra Magic 2.

The Romanian air force was originally offered the Python 3 as part of an upgrade package for its Mikoyan MiG-21 Fishbed fighters. The project is being led by, Israeli defence electronics specialist, Elbit.

The air force, however, elected to procure the Magic 2 in preference to the Python 3. The Python 4 is considered by many observers to be the most capable close in IR missile now in service.

The 105kg Python 4 is optimised for "dog-fighting" following visual identification of the target. The missile is capable of turning through 180¡ in around 3s, allowing the pilot to carry out "over-the-shoulder" launches.

The Romanian air force is also interested in procuring a radar-guided beyond-visual-range missile. Potential candidates could include another classified Rafael missile, or more likely South African company Kentron's R-Darter.

Source: Flight International