A-Darter missile successfully test fired



The joint team from South Africa and Brazil successfully flight tested the A-Darter air-to-air missile on Feb 9, validating its superior maneuverability.


The missile intended to equip the 36 Saab Gripen NG fighters ordered by Brazil, last October was launched by a South African Air Force (SAAF) Gripen D fighter over Overberg test range in South Africa against a Unmanned Aircraft.

The heat seeking missile successfully destroyed the target flying at 600 meter altitude and 90 degree to the launch aircraft.

The unique heat sensor onboard the missile can distinquish between the target aircraft’s infrared signature and flares that bogey might launch to fool the missile.

target destruction
With 2.98 meters in length and 90 kg weight, the A-Darter is distinguished by the absence of fins and uses thrust vectoring for maneuvering. This enable to perform maneuvers of up to 100 times the force of gravity (100 G). The most modern fighter jets are only 9 G. The fifth generation missile has a range of 12 miles.

According to the project manager for Brazil, with this release, A-Darter is over 90% complete and is expected to be ready in the first half of 2016.

The lead company is the South African Denel Dynamics. Brazil has invested about $300 million in the program so far, half being directly in companies located in the country. Brazilian companies Mectron, Avibras and Optoelectronics has already received technology transferred by Denel.

Programming algorithms for missile systems were developed by a military engineer of Brazilian Air Force (FAB).

The partnership for development began in 2006 and the goal is that both countries produce components for future export.

The first test-firing was done on 20 July 2010 by a SAAF Gripen.

The Gripen NG will be delivered to FAB in three batches running from 2019 through to 2032. Brazil is expected to order a further 72 more Gripens.