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Derby missile.
Source: Rafael - © copyright lies with original owner

Long range air to air missile
Entered service
Late 2000's
In service
Early 1980's - early 2000's
Mid 2000's - present
Alto (alternative designation)



The Derby is a modern Israeli air to air missile. It is a further development of the successful Python series. Reportedly the Derby started as a joint development effort by Israel and South Africa. Unlike the Python it features active radar homing and beyond visual range capability. The Derby is more in the league of the French MICA RF than the longer range American AMRAAM or Russian R-77.


The Derby can be considered an enlarged version of the Python 4 missile using active radar homing instead of infrared guidance. As such the Derby is a medium sized missile. The layout is conventional with the guidance section in front, followed by the warhead and with the rocket motor making up the rear half of the missile. There are four steerable fins at the front and four small steerable wings at the rear.


The Derby uses active radar homing and can be launched at targets at short range and beyond visual range. At longer ranges the missile uses inertial navigation before the missile's own radar acquires the target. Seeker and ECCM quality are reportedly very good.


The Derby is a capable missile with a maximum range of about 50 km. When launched from a fighter the typical maximum speed is Mach 4. Lock on after launch allows for all aspect engagement. When launched from the ground the maximum range is quoted to be over 35 km. The maximum altitude is 16 km at a much reduced maximum range.


The Derby is used on the Israeli F-16I. It can also be integrated with other types of F-16, the F-5 Tiger and the French Mirage. It is selected by India to be used on the indigenious Tejas fighter aircraft. Additionally the Derby can also be used as a surface to air missile. The truck mounted SPYDER system is able to launch both the Derby and the infrared guided Python 5.


The main user of the Derby is Israel where it is used alongside the infrared guided Python series and radar homing AMRAAM. Additional sales have been to Georgia and India.


Identifying the Derby

The Derby can be launched from aircraft or from the ground based SPYDER system, making the missile truly multipurpose. The Derby can be identified by its pointed radome which is very different from the round infrared seekers used on the Python series. Additionally it has only a single set of forward fins. Compared to other radar guided missiles, such as AMRAAM and Sparrow, the forward fins are located much closer to the nose.

List of known variants

Original production model.
Model with improved seeker and software. Introduced 2015.
I-Derby ER
Long range variant of the I-Derby with dual pulse rocket motor.