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Air-Launched Weapons

A-Darter AAM formally qualified

06 October 2019
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Denel Dynamics completed the formal qualification review of the A-Darter IIR short-range air-to-air missile in August. Source: Denel

Denel Dynamics completed the formal qualification review of the A-Darter imaging infrared (IIR) short-range air-to-air missile (SRAAM) in August, followed by certification in September by the South African Air Force's (SAAF's) Directorate Systems Integrity and the Brazilian Institute for Industrial Development and Coordination. The two Type Certificates were handed over to Denel Dynamics in Brasilia on 29 September, with South Africa's Armscor simultaneously formally handing over the A-Darter data pack to the Brazilian Department of Aerospace Science and Technology.

The A-Darter has already been integrated, qualified, and cleared on the Saab JAS39 Gripen C/D fighters that are used by the SAAF, and the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) will now work with Saab to similarly integrate the missile with its Gripen E/F fighters. It is understood that at least one other country has already expressed interest in the A-Darter.

The A-Darter is a fifth-generation 23 km range SRAAM that weighs 93 kg and has a length of 2.98m, diameter of 16.6cm, and a wingspan of 48.8 cm across the tail fins. The missile features a multi-element, two-colour thermal imaging infrared seeker with a 180° look angle and 120°/second track rate. High agility - 100 G - is provided by using body lift and thrust vector control. The IMU will handle up to 9,000°/sec (+/- 500°/sec) and linear accelerations up to 30 G. The motor composition and design have been optimised to minimise the launch signature. It has a laser proximity fuze and multi-mode ECCM using digital processing and the latest available hardware and software.

The guidance system offers lock-on-before-launch and lock-on-after-launch modes, and can be cued onto a target using the aircraft's radar, an infrared search and track (IRST) system if fitted, or through pilot's helmet sight.

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