Denel Reveals Progress With Marlin, Darter, Raptor Missiles

 - September 26, 2014, 8:05 AM
Denel Dynamics is incorporating greater degrees of modularity into its missile designs. The radar-guide Marlin (top) has elements from the successful A-Darter AAM (bottom) and Umkhonto SAM in its design. (Photos: David Donald)

During last week’s African Aerospace and Defence show in South Africa Denel Dynamics revealed that the Marlin active radar-guided missile will undertake its first flight test early next year. This will be a ground-launched ballistic trial at the Overberg Test Range to examine the missile’s basic flight systems. Successful completion of this phase will lead to programmed tests of the missile’s guidance systems, before closed-loop guidance tests are undertaken, in which the seeker controls the guidance system. In the meantime, the seeker will undergo ground-based fly-over and captive-carry tests.

Marlin is being developed to a South African DoD/Armscor contract for a technology demonstrator. The weapon was publicly launched in 2013 at the LAAD show in Brazil, at which time it was announced that Brazil would be likely to join the program as a partner. However, for the time being Marlin remains a South Africa-only venture.

Under development for around 10 years with various project names, Marlin, with its range of more than 60 miles, has evolved into a weapon that could have land-, sea- and air-launched applications using a common motor (without booster) and systems. South Africa’s fighter force has lacked a radar-guided missile capability since the retirement of the Cheetah and its R-Darter missiles, so the Gripen is likely to be an early application.

Also at AAD, Denel Dynamics revealed some details of its other missile programs. The imaging infrared-guided A-Darter has completed integration tests for South Africa’s Saab Gripen C/D multi-role fighter, and trials are ongoing for the Hawk advanced trainer. However, a production order has not yet been received, although it is expected soon.

Denel is also assisting Brazilian partner Mectron with an industrial facility in São José dos Campos to build A-Darter locally. The missile is to arm AMX light fighters and the Gripen E/F that Brazil has selected to fulfill its new fighter requirement. Although Brazil has yet to sign for the Gripen E/F, Denel is preparing to begin pre-integration flight trials of the missile on the Gripen NG technology demonstrator.

At AAD Denel Dynamics also showed a full-scale model of its Raptor III standoff precision attack missile. This is the latest iteration of the Raptor system, with a cleaner aerodynamic shape thanks to the packaging of systems within the overall weapon body. With a range of just under 185 miles the Raptor III uses jam-resistant GNSS (global navigation satellite system) and inertial navigation for midcourse guidance, with low-light TV or imaging infrared seeker for terminal phase guidance, including automatic target recognition. CEP (circular error of probability) is claimed as less than 10 feet. A datalink provides an in-flight retargeting capability, and the missile can be integrated with an aircraft’s mission system either hard-wired through the pylon or by wireless connection.