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Aug 11, 2006

South Africa, Brazil now working together on missile programme

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Africa|Defence|Denel|Engineering|Industrial|Systems|Africa|Service|Systems
Africa|Defence|Denel|Engineering|Industrial|Systems|Africa|Service|Systems
africa-company|defence|denel|engineering|industrial|systems-company|africa|service|systems
A team of specialists from the Aerospace Technical Centre (CTA) of the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) is now in South Africa to participate in the further development of Denel’s A-Darter air-to-air missile (AAM).

The contract, covering Brazilian participation in the financing and development of the A-Darter, was signed only a few weeks ago, after several delays, apparently requested by the South African side; the reason for the delays is not known.

Originally, it had been hoped that the signing would take place in late March or early April.

The contract is actually between, on the one side, the Brazilian Minis-try of Defence and the FAB and, on the other, South Africa’s defence procurement, disposal and research and development agency Armscor, part of the South African Depart-ment of Defence.

It is, thus, a high-level agreement between government departments on both sides of the Atlantic.

A certain amount of development of the A-Darter has already taken place, funded entirely by South Africa.

In terms of the agreement with Brazil, the South American country will fund 50% of the costs of completing the missile’s development.

So far, Brazil has allocated $52-million to the A-Darter programme, but some defence media sources in that country estimate that Brazil’s investment in the A-Darter could reach $100-million or even more.

Just how far the development of the A-Darter has proceeded has not been revealed; but the FAB has stated that it expects the missile to enter service in 2015, nine years from now, which suggests that a lot of work still has to be done.

Until now, the A-Darter was being developed by State-owned defence industrial group Denel’s main missile and unmanned air vehicle division, Denel Aerospace Systems (formerly known as Kentron), under contract from Armscor.

The Brazilian specialists, who currently number five, are now working with their South African counterparts on the development of the missile. In addition, one or more Brazilian private-sector defence companies will, in due course, become involved in the programme.

The CTA is known to be holding talks with missile-maker Mectron (manufacturer of Brazil’s first indigenous AAM, the MAA-1 Piranha, which the A-Darter will replace in service), rocket, missile and armoured vehicle maker Avibras, and strategic systems software house Atech.

Such involvement is necessary on the Brazilian side because the CTA is a research and development (R&D) organisation, with no capa-city for industrialisation and series manufacture.

Interestingly, as long ago as October 18, 2002, Engineering News reported that Denel Aerospace Systems, then called Kentron, was holding talks with Avibras and Mectron over possible cooperation.

The A-Darter will be a fifth-generation, infrared (IR) homing weapon.

For example, the A-Darter will have a longer range than current IR-homing missiles (which are short-range weapons) and will, after launch, reportedlly be able to turn 180
Edited by: Keith Campbell
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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