TEJAS, India's indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), has been cleared to carry the 5th generation Python-5 air-to-air missile (AAM) as a part of its weapons package which would significantly enhance its combat abilities, the Centre said on Wednesday.

The decision was taken on Tuesday after a series of trials were conducted to validate the performance of the aircraft.

TEJAS added the Python-5 AAM in its air-to-air weapons capability on Tuesday, according to a statement issued by the defence ministry.
The trials were aimed to validate the enhanced capability of the already integrated Derby Beyond Visual Range (BVR) AAM on TEJAS. The test-firing of the missile was done in Goa on Tuesday which completed missile trials to validate its performance under extremely challenging conditions.

The Derby missile achieved a direct hit on a high-speed manoeuvring aerial target, while the Python-5 missile also managed to achieve 100 per cent hits which validated the complete capability of these missiles, the statement said.

Before the trials were conducted, extensive missile carriage flight tests were done in Bangalore in order to assess the integration of the missile with TEJAS’ aircraft systems such as avionics, missile weapon delivery system, flight control system and fire-control radar.

After successful separation trials in Goa, the live launch of the missile on a Banshee target was done, the defence ministry statement said. The Python-5 missile’s live firing was carried out to validate target engagements from all aspects and also beyond the visual ranges. The missile hit the aerial target in all live firings.

“The missiles were fired from TEJAS aircraft of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) flown by Indian Air Force (IAF) Test pilots belonging to National Flight Test Centre (NFTC),” the statement said.

Union defence minister Rajnath Singh congratulated DRDO, the air force, the ADA as well as the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) along with others involved in the trial. DRDO chairman Dr G Satheesh Reddy, meanwhile, lauded the efforts of the scientists, engineers and technicians from various organisations and industry, the defence ministry statement added.