Denel Dynamics has delivered a test version of its A-Darter 5th generation short-range imaging infrared air to air missile to Saab of Sweden for integration onto the JAS39C/D advanced light fighter aircraft.
The A-Darter is currently in the third year of a 5½ year joint, R1 billion SA –Brazil development programme.
The company says the System Avionics Test Missile (SATM) will be used for missile-aircraft integration testing on the Gripen, both on the ground and in captive flight.
Delivered in late September, the SATM will be used to test the functional interface between the A-Darter missile and the Gripen aircraft, which includes the modification and verification of the aircraft software to be able to fire the weapon.
“This delivery is significant as it demonstrates the level of maturity of the missile design and its subsystems at this stage of the development programme, and pave the way for the first live test firings of A-Darter from the Gripen in 2010,” says Denise Wilson, executive manager for air-to-air programmes at Denel Dynamics.
Successful integration of the advanced A-Darter with the highly sophisticated and modern Gripen avionics system is a key activity on the programme.
A similar integration will take place in Brazil to fit the A-Darter to the Northrop F-5BR freedom Fighter for the Brazilian Air Force.
Denel Dynamics says the A-Darter programme has so far provided some 200 direct jobs, almost all highly skilled engineers and technical support personnel, at Denel Dynamics and up to 1200 indirect jobs in the wider South African industry.
Once in production, missiles will be provided to both the Brazilian and SA air forces. “Significant export opportunities exist for this product into further markets as well,” the company avers, which may create further employment.
“This impact on job creation from Denel Dynamics in a sector that is currently experiencing a global skills shortage is an important South African contribution” says Denel Dynamics CE Jan Wessels.
Pic: A SAAF Gripen fires an A-Darter in this artists’ rendering