Brazilian air force commissions factory for A-Darter missile, confirms specs

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Brazil's air force has tasked South African manufacturer Denel with constructing a factory in São José dos Campos to build the A-Darter beyond visual-range air-to-air missile.

The in-development missile is the result of a bilateral project between Brazil's Mectron and Denel, as well as the air forces of both nations.

The $1.4 million contract award announced on 13 December will see Denel prepare an industrial park in São José dos Campos, the Brazilian aerospace hub, where its local partners Mectron, Avibras and Opto Electrônica are located.

The A-Darter missile, which will be delivered from 2015, will replace the Mectron MAA-1 Piranha on the Alenia Aermacchi/Embraer AMX-1 strike aircraft and will also be fielded on the winner of the F-X2 fighter contest, according to a Brazilian air force statement. The service is awaiting a delayed selection decision between the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale and Saab Gripen.

The announcement also includes details about the 2.98m (9.78ft), 90kg (198lb) missile. Confirming previous reporting, the Brazilian air force says the infrared-guided A-Darter will feature off-boresight targeting, thrust vectoring and 100g peak manoeuvrability.

Brazil agreed to join the A-Darter programme with South Africa in 2006, becoming co-owner of the intellectual property and the recipient of transferred technologies including optics, navigation, sensors and image processing.