Air-Launched Weapons

Denel finalises A-Darter guided flight qualification tests

25 September 2018

Denel Dynamics has finalised the guided missile qualification test series for its A-Darter short-range AAM system. Source: Denel Dynamics

Denel Dynamics has announced that it has successfully completed the guided missile qualification test series for its A-Darter short-range imaging infrared (IIR) air-to-air missile (AAM) system.

A total of four guided firings – all against Denel Skua high-speed target drones – were conducted at Denel Overberg Test Range (DOTR) in the Western Cape, South Africa.

In the first test – conducted in lock-on-after-launch (LOAL) mode – the missile acquired the target late in its free-flight phase and intercepted it with a direct hit. According to Denel, this “demonstrates that long-range intercept beyond IR detection range is possible with the lock-on-after-launch capability of the A-Darter missile”. The range and altitude of the intercept were not disclosed.

The second test was conducted in a Chase Air Combat Manoeuvre mode at close range to prove the high off-boresight launch capability of the missile under high G-forces. The missile performed a hard 180° manoeuvring turn after launch to successfully intercept the target, demonstrating the IIR seeker’s wide field-of-view (FOV), the agility of the airframe in high-G manoeuvring, and the performance of the missile’s thrust vector control system.

The intercept ranges for both tests – which were conducted in November 2017 – were not disclosed.

Two additional tests were conducted in a ‘blow-through’ air combat manoeuvre mode using the missile’s multi-mode electronic countermeasures suite.

Designed by Denel Dynamics, and evolved under a joint development agreement with Brazil’s Ministry of Defence and Brazilian Air Force (Forca Aerea Brasileira: FAB), A-Darter is now a co-development programme between Denel Dynamics of South Africa and Brazil’s Mectron, Avibras, and Opto Eletrônica.

A-Darter is a body-lift missile with thrust vector control for a high angle of attack capability and agility. Weighing 93.5 kg, 166 mm in diameter, and just less than 3 m in length, the missile has four fixed delta control fins at the rear and two strakes along the sides.

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