RAFAEL HAS begun flight-testing an active-radar-guided medium-range air-to-air missile for the Israeli air force. The missile is intended to be deployed on the air force's Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter aircraft.

The programme, previously known as "Alto", is a collaborative project between Rafael and Israel Aircraft Industries' (IAI) MBT division. The project designation has, however, been changed.

The Active beyond-visual-range missile project may have initially been begun in collaboration with South Africa's Kentron. The latter is also flight-testing an active-radar-guided missile, the R-Darter.

The air force has recently ordered the Hughes AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) for its McDonnell Douglas F-15Es, although in limited numbers.

Israeli sources have confirmed that an indigenous active-radar-guided weapon has been integrated with the Elta El-2032 multi-mode pulse-Doppler radar. The radar, and in all probability the missile, were being developed for the cancelled IAI Lavi fighter aircraft.

The air force intends to upgrade its F-16As with the Elta radar, replacing the aircraft's Westinghouse APG-68. This would also provide the opportunity to introduce the Rafael active beyond-visual-range missile into service.

Despite the sensitivity of the programme, a version of the active beyond-visual-range missile is being offered to several potential customers, including India.

Israel is offering an upgrade, for the Indian navy's British Aerospace Sea Harrier FRS51, including the Elta El-2032 and the active-radar beyond-visual-range missile.

The missile may be being offered to Romania for its Mikoyan MiG-21 upgrade being implemented by Elbit. The Rafael Python 4 has already been proposed. South Africa's Kentron is offering the R-Darter as a beyond-visual-range missile for Romania.

Source: Flight International