THE ROYAL Australian Air Force (RAAF) is to test-fire Rafael's Python 4 short-range air-to-air missile as part of an evaluation of weapons to equip its McDonnell Douglas F-18s.

Other F-18 operators, including Canada, Finland, Spain and Switzerland,have asked to be present at the test. The commander of the Swiss air force recently visited Israel and flew a Lockheed Martin F-16 armed with the weapon.

Australia wants to conduct a live launch from one of its own F-18s. The Israeli Ministry of Defence has eased export restrictions on the Python 4 recently.

The weapon, which has probably been in Israeli air force service since 1990, is now the subject of a replacement programme as Rafael pursues development of the Python V.

Source: Flight International