A-Darter delivery two years late

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Armscor acknowledges in its latest annual report that the joint Brazil-South Africa short range air-to-air missile project has been “plagued” with delays and completion is expected “approximately two years later” than planned.

The A-Darter project entails the development of the air-to-air missile for the SA Air Force (SAAF), primarily for use by the Gripens of 2 Squadron. The A-Darter project is co-funded by the Brazilian Air Force.

Full-scale development of the missile system was completed in October last year when the critical design review (CDR) of the remaining outstanding sub-systems was finalised and acceptance. This was done at the same time as acceptance and finalisation of the complete missile system.

Qualification trials on the missile seeker were successfully conducted in the 2016/17 financial year. This saw a series of captive flights undertaken at Denel’s Overberg Test Range (OTR) in the southern Cape.

According to the state’s defence and security acquisition agency the focus for A-Darter now moves to final live firing trials of the complete missile under a number of pre-selected flight profiles.
“Successful completion of the firing trials will signify completion of the missile development phase and co-operation with Brazil.
“In March 2015, Armscor contracted Denel for industrialisation and subsequent production of the required missiles for the SAAF. Progress on preparation of the manufacturing processes has been slow and manufacturing of sub-systems for the first batch of missiles has been delayed by almost a year due to challenges experienced by Denel,” the report noted adding delivery of the first batch of missiles (without specifying a number) and initial logistic support capacity is now scheduled for the fourth quarter of the 2017 calendar year.