Successful ballistic tests should lead to programmed tests, in which the missile’s midcourse guidance and flight control systems are used to control the missile’s flightpath. The final stage of trials will be closed-loop fully guided tests, with the missile’s seeker providing control inputs to the guidance section. In the meantime, Denel Dynamics will conduct ground testing and captive air testing of the latest version of seeker.
What is now known as Marlin has been a Denel Dynamics project to develop an active radar missile for around 10 years. The missile has evolved into one that is capable of satisfying land, sea and air applications, and its design has been carefully crafted to meet the requirements of surface and air launch. It employs a degree of modularity that allows it to incorporate elements from the successful A-Darter and Umkhonto programmes, such as the motor technology and fuze. The missile relies on the same motor for all its applications, negating the need to develop
During the development of the weapon, the seeker has undergone an evolution to take account of technological advances. For instance, the original functions of five digital signal processing cards have been compressed to fit on one card, in turn freeing significant capacity for additional processing.
This has allowed the seeker to be made capable of simultaneous multi-target tracking. Other benefits are the ability of four channels to be processed in parallel, rather than sequentially. An operational result is the increase in electronic counter-countermeasures performance, the seeker being able to discriminate between chaff, jamming and the real target.
Marlin is being developed by Denel Dynamics as a technology demonstration programme to a Department of Defence/Armscor contract. It was unveiled at the LAAD show in Rio de Janeiro last year, and Brazil is being courted as a likely partner.
Brazil is already a partner in the A-Darter imaging infrared guided air-to-air missile programme, and it is hoped to extend that partnership into Marlin and other projects.
A-Darter itself is already integrated onto the Saab Gripen fighter used by South Africa and selected by Brazil. Production is expected to begin next year for service-entry in 2016. Integration of the weapon to the SAAF’s Hawk trainer is underway.