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‘Our missiles have taken role in three high intensity conflicts, shooting down more than 140 enemy aircraft’
Oron OriolExecutive vice president, marketing & business development, Rafael, Oron Oriol

What is the history behind the Python and Derby family of missiles and how have they evolved?
Rafael Advanced Defence Systems has been developing, manufacturing and supplying air-to-air missiles for over 65 years. Rafael Air-to-Air customers are spread globally in 13 air forces worldwide. Altogether, Rafael developed and fielded five generations of Short Range air-to-air missiles and two generations of Medium Range Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missiles. Our missiles have taken role in three high intensity conflicts, shooting down more than 140 enemy aircraft (fighters, helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

How important has the extensive experience of the Israeli Air Force in the field of air combat helped in the development of these missiles?
The Israeli Air Force was founded at the same time as the State of Israel – 67 years ago, in May 1948. Rafael was established as part of the ministry of defense (MoD), after the War of Independence (1947-1948), during the very first steps of the new State. From its early days till now, Rafael had worked hand in hand with the different armed forces of the Israel Defense Force (IDF), including the air force.

The first Rafael Air to Air missile (Shafrir-1) received Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) status in the Israeli Air Force in 1964, and shot down aircraft in the ‘Six Days War’ of 1967. Other advanced Rafael missiles participated in three more intense conflicts (1968-1970 - War of Attrition, 1973 – Yom Kippur War, 1982 – First Lebanon War). Working together with our air force pilots and technicians helped improve Rafael’s missiles and develop five generations of Short Range Air-to-Air missiles and two generations of Medium Range BVR air-to-air missiles.

What are the latest generations of these missiles being offered to India and which platforms are they already on?
The latest Rafael air-to-air missiles include Python-5 and the I-Derby Extended Range (ER). Python-5, offered to India, is Rafael fifth generation short range missile. Python-5 main features include: Full sphere, imaging infra-red seeker with extremely high off-boresight capability, LOAL and Lock On Before Launch (LOBL) capability and more.

The missile is offered to India in the air-to-air version, and is currently being integrated into the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Tejas and also in its ground launch version as part of the Spyder air defence system. The I-Derby ER is part of Rafael's second generation of BVR missile, together with the I-Derby. Both missiles have an innovative Rafael-made, new ‘Software Defined’ seeker, enabling full operational flexibility by controlling every functional parameter.

Both missiles have excellent performance in short and medium ranges. The I-Derby ER, has a unique Dual Pulse rocket motor, enabling more than 100 km interception range. Among other I-Derby ER features are LOAL & LOBL, all weather operation, and Look-down/Shoot-down. I-Derby is operational in India on the Sea-Harriers, and is offered for the LCA Tejas as well. In addition, both the missiles are in use in the Spyder Air Defence system of the IAF. The I-Derby ER is offered to India, mainly for the next generation of aircrafts.


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