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Rafael introduces Python 5 - Full Sphere AA missile

July 12, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Rafael introduces Python 5, the latest member of the Python Air-to-Air Missile Family. The new, fifth generation air-to-air missile provides the pilot engaging an enemy aircraft with a full sphere launch capability.

An IDF/AF viper banking over the Golan heights, armed with 2 JDAMs, 2 Python 5 and 2 Sidewinder missiles. [IDF/AF photo]

The missile can be launched from very short to beyond-visual ranges with greater kill probability, excellent resistance to countermeasures, irrespective of evasive target manoeuvres or deployment of countermeasures.

Python 5 combines advanced new technologies with operationally proven Python 4 components. The missile incorporates a new dual waveband imaging seeker, advanced computer architecture, Inertial Navigation System (INS), sophisticated Infra-Red Counter-Counter-Measures (IRCCM) and sophisticated flight control algorithms. Python 5 maintains Python 4's unique aerodynamic airframe, INS, powerful rocket motor, warhead and proximity fuze.

Python 5 provides revolutionary full sphere competence, achieved by a combination of Lock-On-After-Launch (LOAL) and excellent acquisition and tracking capabilities. Its dual waveband Focal Plane Array (FPA) seeker and sophisticated algorithms enable acquisition of even small, low signature targets in Look-Down, adverse background and cloudy environments.

Developmental and operational testing have already been carried out including extensive captive-carry evaluation tests and free-flight homing tests.

The London-based Jane's Defence Weekly reported that the Python-5 has been on operational duty on both the F-15 and F-16 aircraft.