Amid heightened tension along the border, India on Thursday successfully tested an Israeli air defence system from a test facility off Odisha coast, paving the way for its early deployment in the armed forces.

The Surface-to-air Python and Derby (Spyder) missile system was test fired from the launching complex-III of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-sea against a UK-made unmanned aerial target.

The trial of short-range quick reaction weapon system was carried out for validating various parameters and checking its operational readiness.

Defence sources said three rounds of the missile were fired at Banshee pilot-less target aircraft in three days. ‘’The tests were successful as the missile hit the target as coordinated,’’ said an official from New Delhi.

Acquired from Israel, Spyder is basically a short-range air-to-air defence system and is modified to be used as surface-to-air system. It is designed to strike an enemy aerial threat within a short time.

The defence system comprises two missiles – Python and Derby – with an active onboard radar which makes the Spyder system more lethal. Both the missiles are smokeless which makes it harder to detect them visually and the launch position.

The state-of-the-art missile has a strike range of about 15 km in low altitude. It works on fire-and-forget principle. India has its own surface-to-air missile system Akash which is an all-weather missile and has a strike range of 25 km.

‘’Both the missiles are in the process of deployment along the border. The active radar in both the systems helps to seek and engage an incoming aircraft or missile automatically. Besides aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles, they can destroy low-level cruise missiles,’’ the official added.

Sources said along with Rafael, the Indian Air Force had made the Spyder deal with Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) in 2008.

Banshee is developed by UK-based aerospace and defence major Meggitt PLC, which in collaboration with Mumbai-based Sure Safety Solutions (SSS), has set up a unit at Gopalpur in Ganjam district for assembling unmanned aerial targets.

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