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Denel readies A-Darter for Gripen NG qualification

Denel Dynamics plans to start pre-qualification flight testing in November of the A-Darter air-to-air missile on the Saab Gripen NG, in anticipation of orders from the Brazilian air force, a company spokeswoman says.

After nearly 20 years of development, Denel has fully cleared the flight envelope of the infrared-guided, short-range missile on the Gripen C/D fleet, which is operated by the South African Air Force.

Brazil’s decision to order the Gripen as a Dassault Mirage III replacement last December opened a new opportunity for the A-Darter programme. The nation had become involved in A-Darter development for integration with its modernised Northrop F-5BRs, but had dropped the missile in favour of the Rafael Python.

Brazil has not yet announced plans to operate the A-Darter on the Gripen NG, but Denel is moving forward on integration testing using a loaded Swedish air force aircraft.

Meanwhile, Denel continues to work with engineers of Brazilian missile developer Mectron.

“One of the next phases will be industrialisation of the A-Darter in Brazil,” the spokeswoman says.

Denel is also still awaiting a contract from the South African Air Force to begin delivering operational missiles for its Gripen fleet. Securing the domestic order will allow the company to begin marketing the A-Darter missile to other customers. The company has also launched early studies for a mid-life update programme for the weapon.

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