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Tejas aircraft cleared to carry Python-5 air-to-air missile in its weapons capability

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Indigenously-developed light combat aircraft Tejas has been cleared to carry fifth generation Python-5 air-to-air missile as part of its weapons package that would significantly enhance the combat prowess of the jet, officials said on Wednesday.

The decision to allow Tejas to carry the missile came on Tuesday following a series of trials to validate the performance of the aircraft, they said.

“Tejas added the 5th generation Python-5 air-to-air missile in its air-to-air weapons capability on Tuesday. Trials were also aimed to validate enhanced capability of already integrated Derby beyond visual range AAM on Tejas,” said an official.

He said the test firing at Goa completed a series of missile trials to validate performance of the aircraft under extremely challenging scenarios.

“Derby missile achieved direct hit on a high speed maneuvering aerial target and the Python missiles also achieved 100 per cent hits, thereby validating their complete capability. The trials met all their planned objectives,” the official said.

Prior to these trials, extensive missile carriage flight tests were conducted at Bengaluru to assess integration of the missile with the aircraft systems on board the Tejas.

“Python-5 missile live firing was conducted to validate target engagement from all aspects as well as beyond visual ranges. In all the live firings, missiles hit the aerial target,” the official said.

Tejas, manufactured by state-run aerospace behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, is a single engine and highly agile multi-role supersonic fighter aircraft capable of operating in high-threat air environments.

The aircraft is a potent platform for air combat and offensive air support missions while reconnaissance and anti-ship operations are its secondary roles.

In February, the government sealed a Rs 48,000 crore deal with the HAL to procure 83 Tejas light combat aircraft in the biggest-ever indigenous defence procurement programme.