South African Company Developing New Surface-to-Air Missile

Denel Missiles
Denel missile displayed at LAAD Defence and Security International Exhibition in Brasil

AFRICANGLOBE – Denel Dynamics is developing new surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles as part of a technology demonstrator programme that is leveraging off its experience with the A-Darter, R-Darter and Umkhonto missiles.

Known as Marlin, the all-weather air defence missile technology programme was unveiled at the 9th biennial LAAD Defence and Security International Exhibition held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last week.

According to Denel Dynamics, the Marlin technology demonstrator programme was contracted by the Department of Defence through Armscor and will result in a missile that is launched at a target in three to four years’ time.

Marlin technology will subsequently be used for Navy, Army and Air Force applications, with synergy achieved due to common subsystems. The missile will use some subsystems and system architecture from Denel’s proven Umkhonto surface-to-air missile and its A-Darter short-range air-to-air missile.

The performance of the missiles from the Marlin programme is expected to be in the latest generation class relevant to each type. Denel expects the Marlin All-Weather surface-to-air missile (SAM) will have a much larger range than typical Infra-Red SAMs.

At the moment South Africa is seeking a partner to reduce risk on the project and elevate it to a full-scale joint development programme. “With that, comes skills growth and industry job opportunity for both parties,” Denel said. “The outcome of collaboration on Marlin will be a Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile for the two Air Forces and an All-Weather Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) for the two Navies and Armies.”

Brazil is being courted as a partner nation, notably due to its involvement in the A-Darter programme, which will near completion towards the end of 2014, as the missile is currently entering the qualification phase.

Jan Wessels, CEO of Denel Dynamics, said there is potential to collaborate further with Latin America in the domain of guided missiles, aerospace, defence and high technology in general. “As seen with the A-Darter programme, this type of initiative can sustain and grow industry,” said Wessels.

“Competitive, indigenous, guided missiles design and development capability serves a number of strategic objectives for both South Africa and other advanced developing nations. Locally developed defence products translate into improved technological capability for both countries and create an independent defence capability that is of strategic importance.”

From a South African industry perspective, Wessels remarked upon the absolute synergy between the Brazilian and South African teams in terms of vision, work ethic and technical capability on the A-Darter project. “We look forward to expanding on this through more joint programmes,” said Wessels, who aims to manage his company to become the technology advancement leader in BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), and other developing countries.