The missiles have been integrated into the plane’s weapons suite but have yet to finish testing, which is slated to happen by year’s end, Flight Global reported. The Indian Air Force conducted tests in May “to assess the Derby integration with aircraft systems on board Tejas, including the aircraft avionics, fire-controlled radar, launchers and missile weapon delivery system and to verify its performance,” a Ministry of Defense spokesman said.
The IAF said the test was a smashing success but the missiles are not yet categorized as having full operational capability.
Beyond-visual-range (BVR) strike capability is crucial for 21st century air combat, according to military analysts. “Modern air combat is divided into beyond visual beyond-visual-range combat and within-visual-range combat. BVR combat means the fighters use airborne detection equipment to search the enemy target, then use [a] remote air-to-air missile to attack it, when both of them are beyond visual range,” a 2011 Beijing University study on BVR strategy reads.
The I-Derby missiles are made by Israel-based Rafael and have a 50 kilometer range.