Indian Air Force (IAF) is eyeing more Israeli weapons and missiles for its fighter jets including the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas. According to IHLS, an Israeli website specialising in news in the security and technology sphere, the IAF will test advanced Israeli-developed systems on Tejas to find out their integration potential. IHLS claims that IAF will test air-to-air missiles and precise air-to-ground weapon systems.
Tejas, IAF's first indigenous supersonic jet, had on April 27, 2018, test-fired the 118-kg Israeli Rafael I-Derby air-to-air Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile from the firing range off the Goa coast for the second time after an exhaustive study of the missile separation characteristics and plume envelope. The first test of the Derby missile by Tejas in RADAR guided mode had taken place on May 12, 2017, at the Interim Test Range (ITR), Chandipur in Odisha. The missile launch was performed in Lock ON after Launch mode for a BVR target in the look down mode and the target was destroyed.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is already equipping one squadron of LCA Tejas with Israeli missiles. The Israeli Rafael Spice smart bombs which can use GPS/INS Satellite/Inertial Navigation system to home in on targets are also being tested, claimed IHLS.
Tejas, the four-plus generation combat aircraft, is on its way to achieving the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) by successfully firing the Derby missile for the second time. The IAF will induct 324 Tejas fighters to make up for the depleting number of squadron strength.
However, the IAF had made it clear to the DRDO that the next variant of the LCA - Tejas Mark II jets - should be entirely “new fighters” with “better avionics, radars, enhanced weapons carrying capacity and powerful engines”. The IAF had in July 2017 inducted the first squadron of Tejas with two planes joining the force.