Brazil's air force chief of staff has detailed the service's expectation for fielding new-generation air-launched weapons within the next several years, including beyond visual-range air-to-air and anti-radiation missiles.
Gen Aprigio Eduardo de Moura Azevedo says the Mectron-developed MAR-1 anti-radiation weapon is now involved in final flight tests with a new software update, with the process involving an A-1/AMX strike aircraft. The indigenous missile should enter low-rate production in the third quarter of next year, he told IQPC's International Fighter conference in London on 7 November.
The result of a bilateral project between Mectron and South Africa's Denel, plus the air forces of both nations, the A-Darter beyond visual-range air-to-air missile is in its prototype performance verification phase. Qualification activities are scheduled to occur from the second quarter of 2014, before production and manufacturing baselines are fixed by mid-2015. Production should commence in the third quarter of the same year, he says.
"The product is a good result, but the best is to have the [industrial] capacity," Azevedo says, referring to a national defence strategy which calls for Brazil's development of independent technologies, including through partnership with foreign companies.
Once operational, the A-Darter will arm the Brazilian air force's upgraded Northrop F-5EM/FM fighters (above), operations of which are expected to continue until 2025, and the service's future F-X2 combat aircraft, as well as the South African Air Force's Saab Gripens.
Meanwhile, Azevedo said the air force continues to wait on the outcome of Brazil's long-delayed F-X2 contest, which is considering the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale and Sweden's Gripen NG. The process is now awaiting a decision from President Dilma Roussef, and is "in very good hands", he said. A selection announcement is not anticipated before next year, according to local media reports.