NEW DELHI --- In two years from now, the Indian Air Force's frontline Sukhoi-30 fighters may be re-armed with Israeli Derby air-to-air missiles after the jet's Russian-made R-77 missiles were found wanting in air combat operations over the Line of Control on February 27 this year.
Sources in the Indian Air Force told NDTV, "We already have the missile as part of the SPYDER (Surface-to-Air Missile) system. Integration (with the IAF's Su-30s) is the next step.''
Retaliating to the IAF strike on the Jaish-e-Mohammed training facility in Balakot on February 26, the Pakistan Air Force aggressively positioned a large formation of 24 fighters near the Line of Control (LoC). A handful of these jets managed to cross the LoC to fire precision-guided glide bombs towards Indian military positions in the Rajouri sector.
Eight Indian Air Force fighters, including two Sukhoi-30 MKI jets, were vectored to intercept the Pakistani formation when they detected the launch of several US-made AIM-120 C5 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) in their direction.
''The PAF surprised the IAF by launching air-to-air missiles from inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir," says Sameer Joshi, an IAF veteran who flew Mirage 2000 fighters during the Kargil conflict. ''The AMRAAM effectively outranged the IAF air-to-air missiles which did not get a command to launch," he said.
Among the Indian Air Force's fighters which were targeted were two Sukhoi-30s which managed to evade the AMRAAMs which were fired at close to their maximum range of 100 kilometres. Fully defensive and desperate to escape the incoming AMRAAMs, the IAF Sukhoi-30s escaped being shot down but were unable to retaliate [against] the F-16s because they were out of position and their own missiles, the Russian R-77s, did not have the range to realistically engage the Pakistani fighters.
IAF sources told NDTV that the Russian missiles do not match its advertised range and cannot engage targets which are more than 80 kilometres away. (end of excerpt)
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