New SA missile technology development project
The intent is to produce both air-to-air missile (AAM) and surface-to-air missile (SAM) versions of the Marlin. The AAM model would be in the beyond-visual-range category while the SAM would come in naval and army versions.
South Africa is currently investing in risk-reduction technology for the programme. This could lead to a missile demonstrator. However, these activities are intended to form the basis of a joint development programme with a friendly country, inspired by the successful A-Darter programme with Brazil. Investment from a partner country will allow the Marlin initiative to become a full-scale weapon development programme.
“As seen with the A-Darter programme, this type of initiative can sustain and grow industry,” highlighted Denel Dynamics CEO Jan 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.”
The development programme for the A-Darter will come to an end towards the end of next year (to be followed by the production programme). The missile is currently entering its qualification phase. Wessels reported that there has been great synergy between the South African and Brazilian teams working on the project, in terms of vision, technical capability and work ethic.
“We look forward to expanding on this through more joint programmes,” he affirmed. Denel Dynamics, which is part of the State-owned Denel defence industrial group, is seeking to become a leader in advancing technology amongst developing countries, particularly the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa group (better known as Brics). The unveiling of the Marlin programme coincided with the opening of the LAAD Defence and Security 2013 exhibition in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.