India and Israel are expected to sign a $25 million deal for acquiring 20 Derby missiles for the Indian Navy.
The deal, which is likely to be inked next month with Tel Aviv-based Rafael Armament Development Authority is for beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air Derby missiles.
According to senior defence ministry sources, the deal will also include six practice missiles. The missiles are designated for the Indian Navy’s Sea Harrier planes, which are on board INS Viraat aircraft carrier.
India has been conducting a worldwide search of BVR missiles for its battle fleet since 2000. The contract for arming its Sea Harrier jets was opened in 2003, sources added.
Once the agreement is finalised, the Israel company will be stationing its specialists in India to train the Navy officers in maintenance and operation of missiles. Officials said that the company will also supply racks and trailers for transferring and installing the missiles.
Delivery of the missiles will start 30 months after the contract is signed, and be completed a year after that, sources said. These missiles have a maximum range of 20 km, a flying speed of Mach 1.2, and can lock in on the target even before being launched, or shortly after the launch.
Sources said that Indian Air Force (IAF) also needs next-generation BVR missiles for upgrading its Mirage 2000H and Sukhoi Su-30 MKI.
The need for new missiles was revealed in early 2003, when the IAF’s weapon systems were unable to cope with those of French dur-ing the joint Indo-French military exercise.