A Denel source says the test took place this week and was “highly successful”.
The source who spoke under condition of anonymity says the missile was fired from a ground launcher and performed a series of programmed extreme manoeuvres in what was the weapon`s first controlled test flight.
The official further added that the successful test showed that a number of technical challenges had been overcome “proving the development programme is still on track.”
The A Darter is slated to be deployed aboard the South African Air Force`s Saab JAS39C/D Gripen fleet under Project Assegaai. It will also be used by the Brazilian Air Force, which has said it expects the system in service by 2015.
The South African and Brazilian defence departments signed an R1 billion agreement to develop the missile at the Latin American Aerospace and Defence exhibition in April 2007. At the time it was reported each would contribute roughly half the funding. Denel Dynamics, previously Kentron, started technical development in 2004.
Then-Denel spokesman Joe Makhafola said the “co-development of the missile … not only brings much-needed skills, training and technology transfer to the country, but reinforces the South-South co-operation initiated by President Thabo Mbeki and his counterpart.”
“The A-Darter missile is vitally important to the aerospace cluster in equipping the aircraft of both air forces,” said Makhafola. It would guarantee a credible deterrent for the SAAF and would maintain and expand local capabilities in the field for 15 years after 2007.
The spokesman added the contract would have “a very positive spin-off” for local defence companies. “One of Denel’s macro strategies is to secure privileged access to a guaranteed minimum portion of South Africa’s defence development and procurement spend.”
At least 200 engineers would be employed over the duration of the contract, with a focus on increasing the number of young engineers being attracted to Denel.
Thirty Brazilian engineers and technicians – 10 from the air force and 20 from industry – are deployed to the programme.