A-Darter for Gripen – and Hawk
Written by Leon Engelbrecht, Friday, 23 April 2010
The move will effective double the SAAF missile combat fighter fleet and will give Denel Dynamics a significant new market for the R1 billion missile programme as the Hawk is flown by about 18 countries.
Denel Dynamics CE Jan Wessels says the new weapon, under joint development by SA and Brazil since March 2007 is on track and on target for delivery to the SAAF and the Brazilian Air Force from early 2013, now less than three years away. Wessels adds training missiles will be delivered from 2012.
Wessels says the A-Darter has now passed a series of development tests, the latest just last month. “For a missile like this the so-called guided flight test is the key test. That's where you first test it against a target. Now everything has to work as a system. What you now do is you have an actual infra-red target in the air, in this case a parachute flare... now you check if everything is working as a system,” he says.
The test followed a series of programme flight tests where the missile had to fly a series of pre-determined routes, or circuits, “and it is very extreme, left, right up down, all the difficult manoeuvres. But it doesn't engage a target. You are exercising its manoeuvrability. Can it pull the G's etcetera. That was done by February,” Wessels adds.
“In parallel the so-called integration missiles that went to Saab. So they have in Sweden already integrated the missile with the structure of the aircraft, the mechanical integration of the missile with the aircraft and with the avionics, which is very complex on the Gripen. They conducted a series of flight tests where they flew with this missile in extreme angles of attack up to 12G, 12 times standard earth gravity) and up to 13 700m in altitude to ensure the aircraft wasn't damaged. The firing of the missile off the aircraft will be tested as a separate activity but it is these days fairly predictable. That will happen in the latter half of 2010,after AAD, because depends on the availability of aircraft, pilots and this and that.
“The rest of the programme is now qualification and industrialisation. So the real technology has all been solved. On a programme like this those were the risks. On a fifth generation missile like this there were many things we had never done. They have all now been ticked off. Now we can increase the reliability and maturity of the system.”
The next step is to take the missile to the Gripen. “We will repeat the March test, which was ground-launched, but this time from the aircraft, then we will go into clean-up mode and start to prepare for production, reliability testing and the like.”
SAAF director air combat Brigadier General John Bayne let the A-Darter out of the Hawk bag earlier this week. Wessels says fitting the missile to the aircraft will be a new project “that is currently being negotiated. We have a RFI [request for information] to respond to” from the Air Force through ATE and BAE Systems, the original equipment and avionics manufacturers.
“We think there is a lot of potential for [A-Darter on Hawk],” Wessels says. One operating scenario will see the more expensive (in terms of purchase price and operating cost) Gripen act as a command aircraft for one or more Hawk, staying aloof from close combat while feeding command and radar data to the Hawk via the Link ZA datalink both aircraft carry. The Hawk will then close with and engage the adversary using the data transmitted from the Gripen.
“The more they [the SAAF] use the Hawk as a workhorse, the better for our industry. The access to that platform, that product is ten times easier” than the more sophisticated Gripen, Wessels says.
Pic: A very dated artists' impression of a SAAF Gripen firing A-Darter (note the old-style SAAF roundel)
- SAAF chief to attend war games in Russia next month
- Denel still pursuing national simulation training centre
- New Denel chairman was struck from the attorneys’ roll
- BAE Systems Land Systems SA rebranded Denel Vehicle Systems
- Denel Dynamics working on C-RAM missile
- Dismissed Armscor deputy chair is now a Denel director
- Denel expects Rooivalk production decision later this year
- Denel reports growth in profit and a strong order book
- SAAF chief visiting China
- SAAF Oryx damaged in DRC taxiing incident
Skynet 5A satellite starts move eastwards
by AIRBUS Defence & Space, 28 July 2015
The relocation will extend the Skynet constellation coverage and services, providing near-global military X-band and UHF coverage.
Strong order book, growing profit, diversified product offering confirm Denel as Africa's hi-tech powerhouse
by Denel Corporate, 24 July 2015
The company has an order book of over R35 billion, triple the value of secured orders of a few years ago, and a six-fold annual revenue cover.
Southern African Shipyards leads cost management in African shipbuilding
by 6Sigma Naval Architects, 22 July 2015The company is taking part in two tenders for the South African Navy, and has selected the CostFact system to cover its calculation demands.
Paramount Group supports orphanage, homeless shelter for Mandela Day
by Paramount Group, 21 July 2015The Paramount team assisted the Thusong Children's Orphanage and the MES Kempton City Homeless Shelter.
Denel dogs to sniff out rhino poachers in Kruger
by Denel Corporate, 16 July 2015
Specially trained dogs will be deployed in the nature reserve for the next 18 months, in terms of an agreement between Denel and SANParks.
Denel to offer wide-ranging products to African defence leaders
by Denel Corporate, 6 July 2015
It will exhibit these at the Land Forces Africa conference at the Heartfelt Arena in Thaba-Tshwane today and tomorrow.