Denel Dynamics has received a contract from Brazil to integrate the A-Darter air-to-air missile to the Brazilian Air Force’s JAS-39E/F Gripen NG fighters (defenceWeb). Denel Group made note of the contract in its Annual Report for 2015-2016.
Brazil’s severe economic troubles cast doubt on the Brazilian Air Force’s commitment to the A-Darter, which Brazil had co-funded with South Africa to develop. The A-Darter was to be manufactured in Brazil in parallel with South Africa, but Brazil has yet to commence with the production project.
The A-Darter is a fifth-generation high off-boresight (HOBS) air-to-air missile (AAM). Originally a project of Denel Dynamics, Brazil’s Avibrás, Mectron and Opto Eletrônica joined as partners on the heels of Brazil’s decision to partner and help fund the A-Darter. The A-Darter is equipped with an imaging infrared seeker that can be slaved to a helmet-mounted display and sight system, and thrust-vectoring nozzles for close-quarters maneuverability. It is marketed as an alternative to the AIM-9X, Python 5, and IRIS-T.
Notes & Comments:
The integration contract is a promising sign for the A-Darter in that it opens the possibility of follow-on orders from the Brazilian Air Force when its JAS-39E/Fs are ready for operational use. The fate of Brazil’s planned A-Darter production line is not known.
Furthermore, it is important to note that the A-Darter itself may see increased competition from within Brazil itself, especially with the onset of Israeli vendors entering the Brazilian defence industry through local subsidiaries and partnerships. An Israeli-Brazilian firm could push the Rafael Python 5.
South Africa’s Denel Group is banking on third party export orders. In fact, Denel Group will be exhibiting at the forthcoming International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) due to take place in Karachi from 22 November. The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is – or at least was – interested in the A-Darter for use on the JF-17 Thunder lightweight multi-role fighter.