The A-Darter, the planned air-to-air missile for the future Brazilian Air Force SAAB JAS 39E/F fighter jet has been successfully test-fired by a South African Air Force JAS 39D Gripen at the Overberg range on 9 February 2015, the Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB) confirmed on 12 February 2015.
Brazil and South Africa are now co-operating on the A-Darter, with support from Swedish SAAB. The test was part of the continuing development of the weapon, ahead of the introduction into service of a dozen JAS 39C/Ds Brazil will lease from Sweden from 2016 forward. The C/Ds will be gradually replaced by the new E/Fs from 2019, with those aircraft been mainly assembled and partly produced by Brazil’s own Embraer aircraft company.
The recent launch of the A-Darter was aimed at testing the manoeuvrability of the missile, with the rocket launched towards a remotely-controlled aircraft. The heat-guided weapon is designed to perform while sustaining up to 100Gs, with targets within a 12 miles radius. The A-Darter’s sensor-eye is said to see the difference between the target aircraft’s infrared signature and flares the bogey might launch to fool the missile. South Africa’s Denel Dynamics is the leading company of the project.
According to the FAB the A-Darter is now 90 percent ready. The first test-firing was done on 20 July 2010, also at the Overberg range by a SAAF Gripen. Two Brazilian Gripen pilots made their first solo flights last month, marking a milestone of the project that will give at least 36 Gripen E/Fs for the Brazilian Air Force. The number might actually go up to 108.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, including source information provided by the Força Aérea Brasileira and Denel Dynamics
Featured image (top): The South African Air Force’s SAAB JAS 39D Gripen ’01’ which was involved in testing the new A-Darter in February 2015 (Image © Frans Dely / Gripen International)