Brazil has committed $52-million for the completion of the A-Darter project – this amounts to half of the funding needed to finish the development of the missile and bring it into service.
Fab also reported that the A-Darter programme had been initiated by Denel in 1995 and that talks about Brazilian participation had started in 2003.
Significantly, the Brazilian contribution is sourced from the budgets of Fab and Brazil’s Ministry of Science and Technology.
According to Fab’s Colonel Nelson Gomes da Silveira, the idea is to re-create the South African research structure in Brazil, to make it possible to transfer technology between the two countries.
(Colonel Nelson, as he is known, is the manager of systems and sensors in the subdirectorate of aeronautical projects development of the Aerospace Technology General Command of Fab.) The joint programme to complete the development of the A-Darter will see the participation of specialists from the Aerospace Technology General Command, as well as the involvement of Brazilian industry.
“We have started to negotiate with Mectron and Avibras over their possible participation, along with Atech, which works in the area of embarked software, among other companies,” the colonel told the Fab publication, Notaer.
Mectron, Avibras and Atech are all Brazilian private-sector companies.
Mectron is a high-technology company specialising in missiles and electronic systems for aircraft and spacecraft, among other products. Mectron was responsible for developing Brazil’s own infrared-homing missile, the MAA-1 Piranha, but that is a third-generation missile, whereas the A-Darter will be a fifth-generation weapon.
The Fab plan is to use the A-Darter to replace the Piranha.
Avibras specialises in rockets (both for the military and scientific research), missiles, electronics and light armoured vehicles, as well as various products for the civilian market. Atech Tecnologias Criticas is a major Brazilian software and systems-integration house whose clients include all three of the Brazilian armed forces, Brazilian federal and State law-enforcement agencies, federal and State civilian agencies, the Brazilian Space Agency and major com- panies, in the areas of defence, space, air-traffic control, energy, environment, health, logistics, public safety, public transport, and surveillance and monitoring.
In South Africa, the A-Darter has been under development by Denel Aerospace Systems, previously known as Kentron, and part of the State-owned Denel defence industrial group.
At the time of closing for press, the actual cooperation agreement between Brazil and South Africa for the joint development of the A-Darter had not yet been signed.
The reasons are unclear.
A couple of months ago, Nelson told the newspaper, Vale Paraibano, that, through this partnership with South Africa, Brazil seeks to economise on costs and increase its access to certain key technologies.
“We have selected seven areas in which we want to increase or acquire knowledge, for example, infrared detector technology with image processing,” he said.
The A-Darter project would give Brazil access to that advanced IR technology.
(The other six technology areas are not necessarily connected to the A-Darter; some, at least, are the concern of other projects.) As a fifth-generation missile, 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