From 2015, the Brazilian Air Force will receive the A-Darter missile, which will be able to maneuver up to 10 times faster than a fighter jet.
This new technology, the result of a joint development between Brazil and South Africa, has already reached the end of the test phase, and is ready to move into the next phase, large-scale production.
Last Thursday, December 6, the Air Force Command signed with the company Denel do Brasil a contract worth 1.4 million reals to prepare for the missile’s production at the industrial park of São José dos Campos (Sao Paolo state). This missile will equip the modernized version of the A-1 fighter as well as the future F-X2 fighter.
The production of the new missile will involve several Brazilian companies, including Mectron, Avibras and Opto Electronics, which have benefited from a transfer of technology in areas such as optics, navigation, sensors and image processing.
Brazil joined the A-Darter development in 2006, and is co-owner of the intellectual and industrial property rights to the missile.
According to the Technical Manager of Denel do Brazil, Everton de Paula, the San Jose dos Campos facility will manufacture all the missiles that will be acquired by the Brazilian air force, as well as components for missiles that may be exported by Brazil and South Africa to other countries.
"This agreement represents another step towards effective implementation of technology transfer. The technology we had previously was third-generation; this is a major leap, and we will now move to a fifth-generation missile," he said.
Weighing 90 kg and 2.98 meters long, the A-Darter missile is an air-to-air weapon, designed to be launched from aircraft against aerial targets. For this, it is fitted with a sensor that detects the heat of airplanes and helicopters for guidance purposes.
The technological difference is that, unlike older missiles, a fighter armed with an A-Darter missile will be able to engage targets that are not only in its front sector, but also to the sides and even to the rear of the aircraft.
Another technology unprecedented in Brazil is thrust vectoring, which consists in changing the direction of the missile motor’s exhaust.
In addition to the movement of the four small "wings," a thrust-vectoring missile is capable of making snap movements up to 100 times the force of gravity (100G), while combat aircraft are generally limited to only nine times (9G).
The missile also produces less smoke than older models, making it more difficult to detect.
The Chairman of the Program Coordinator Combat Aircraft Program’s Coordinating Committee (COPAC), Brigadier Carlos Baptista de Almeida Junior, praised the characteristics of the missile during the contract signing ceremony contract with Denel do Brasil.
"Seeing the start of production in Brazil of a fifth generation missile is certain proof that we are providing our pilots the very latest equipment," he said.