SAO JOSE DOS CAMPOS, Brazil, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Brazil and South Africa will collaborate on building a short-range, air-to-air missile as part of a multibillion-dollar Brazilian program to develop avionics and military aviation for domestic and export markets.
Proliferation of new missile technologies has enabled new manufacturers to enter the defense market with far-reaching effect not only on traditional suppliers in the United States and Europe but also on supply controls.
The SRAAM will be developed by South Africa's Denel Pty Ltd. subsidiary Denel Dynamics and Brazilian air force and Ministry of Defense.
The A-Darter missile has been more than six years in the planning stage. In the meantime, missile technologies have advanced with U.S., European and Israeli models competing with Russian products. China is also developing a competing missile manufacturing industry.
However, both Brazil and South Africa hope they can compete effectively against both Western and Russian suppliers in developing countries where exports of weapons, including missiles, are subject to legislative hurdles.
The planned A-Darter missile will use common LAU-7 type launchers and will be designed to work with standard MIL-STD-1553 data bus systems, Defense Industry Daily said on its website.
It's expected to be a fifth-generation weapon likely to incorporate modern thermal imaging technology for targeting, and a 90-degree look angle with cockpit-selectable seeker scan patterns.
The Brazilian air force aerospace technical center will be in charge of the Brazilian industrial end of the deal alongside missile manufacturer Mectron from its Sao Jose dos Campos manufacturing facility.
South African officials have said they support the deal because it will introduce new technical skills to the country and also reinforce "south-south" collaboration. South Africa is the latest nation to join the BRICS group of emerging markets that includes Brazil, China, India and Russia.
The A-Darter missile is also expected to join the inventory of the South African air force, which deploys Saab's JAS-39 C/D Gripen lightweight single-engine multirole fighter and other aircraft.
In Brazil, the A-Darter is expected to replace the indigenous Mectron MAA-1 Piranha missile on some aircraft and equip whatever fighter jet Brazilian air force chooses for its next-generation inventory.
Saab is a competitor in Brazil's F-X2 multirole fighter competition alongside France's Dassault Aviation and Boeing.
The Brazilian navy may also deploy the A-Darter to replace its AIM-9H Sidewinder missiles, defense sources said.
Denel has created a Denel do Brasil subsidiary office in Sao Jose dos Campos in preparation for the joint manufacturing program.