Denel Dynamics (Hangar 3, Stand W25) has completed guided missile qualification tests for its fifth-generation A-Darter air-to-air missile, which employs an advanced imaging infrared seeker and thrust-vectoring control system. The qualification test series comprised four firings conducted in different scenarios to validate the various capabilities of the A-Darter.
Undertaken at the Denel Overberg Test Range in the Western Cape, the four trials employed Denel's own Skua target, which can fly at high subsonic speeds and manoeuvre at up to 5g. The first test was a lock-on after launch (LOAL) test, in which the missile's seeker acquired the target late in its fly-out before achieving a direct hit. This not only proved the LOAL capability that permits the A-Darter to engage targets at beyond IR detection ranges, but also the accuracy of the missile's target prediction function.
In the second firing, the A-Darter was released at close range to the target in the 'chase' air combat scenario. Demonstrating the high off-boresight capability of the seeker and manoeuvring capability of the airframe and thrust-vectoring motor, the missile performed a high-g 180° turn after launch to hit the target.
In the final two tests, the A-Darter was launched in 'blow-through' air combat situations, with electronic countermeasures being employed by the target. The missile's electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) worked as expected to defeat the target's defences.
Witnessed by representatives from key stakeholders, such as Armscor and the South African and Brazilian air forces, the tests bring system development firings to a close, with performance and capability fully meeting the requirements of the client.
A-Darter's seeker can be cued by the fighter's own radar or visually by the pilot wearing a helmet-mounted display. The seeker's own autonomous scan feature allows it to detect the target by itself, a useful feature in conditions where radar silence is required. Advanced digital processing produces excellent performance in areas such as ECCM and false target rejection.
Able to be carried by many types of modern fighters, the A-Darter has already been integrated and cleared without restriction for the Saab Gripen C/D, as operated by the South African Air Force, and is a candidate to arm the Gripen E/F aircraft that have been ordered by Brazil.