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Denel Dynamics Certifies A-Darter Air-to-Air Missile

On 02 October 2019, Denel Dynamics announced that it completed the qualification and certification of its A-Darter, a high off-boresight (HOBS) air-to-air missile (AAM), in September.

Denel Dynamics’ A-Darter team conducted a Formal Qualification Review in August 2019. The certification of completion was provided by South Africa’s Directorate System Integrity (DSI) and Brazil’s Institute for Industrial Development and Coordination (IFI).

In its official press release, Denel Dynamics stated:

“The Type Certificate received by Denel Dynamics is the official acknowledgement that the A-Darter missile meets the technical, operational, logistical, industrial and safety requirements and therefore this concludes the development of the A-Darter missile.”

The Brazilian Air Force’s Department of Aerospace Science and Technology (DCTA) and Denel Dynamics – via the Armaments Corporation of South Africa (ARMSCOR) – began co-developing the A-Darter in 2006. However, Denel Dynamics had been doing work on a HOBS AAM prior to partnering with Brazil.

The goal was to develop an ITAR-free (i.e., free of US-controlled subsystems) HOBS AAM that the end-user can pair to a helmet-mounted display and sight (HMD/S) system. In other words, the A-Darter is analogous to the IRIS-T, AIM-9X, and ASRAAM (Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile).

In September 2018, Denel Dynamics announced that it completed integrating and qualifying the A-Darter for use on South Africa and Brazil’s respective Gripen multi-role fighters. Denel Dynamics was awarded a contract to perform the integration work in November 2016.

With the A-Darter ready for operational use, it will be worth observing what other countries procure the HOBS AAM. In 2015, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) had listed the A-Darter as an option for use from its JF-17 Block 3, which the PAF expects to acquire by March 2020.

The then Chief Project Director (CPD) of the JF-17, Air Vice Marshal (now Air Marshal) Arshad Malik, stated

“Selex is one of the competitors in the AESA (active electronically scanned array) [radar] requirement. A-Darter, LD-10 anti-radiation missile, CM-400 anti-ship missile, range extension kits and other precision-guided munitions will further improve the jet’s combat punch.”[1]

Currently, Denel Dynamics is also developing the Marlin beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM). Like the A-Darter, the South African munitions maker is open to partnering with an outside stakeholder.

[1] Alan Warnes. “JF-17 Thunder: Pakistan’s Multi-Role Fighter”. 2015.

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