Aerea Brasileira / Brazilian
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Electronic warfare training and air-to-air misiles for the Northrop F-5E/Embraer Northrop F-5EM/FM.
Two Thomson CT-51F Caiman ECM "escort
pods" and four capsules were purchased in 1984 by Brazii for use mainly
by the 1°-14° Esquadrao "Pampa" and delivered 1987. It was used only to
train radar operators
in an jamming environement, attached on sub-fuselage of some first batch Tigers and some of the second batch. The pods were designed for SEPECAT Jaguar use but were conveted to be used by Brazilian Tigers;
withdrawal took place in 1995 due to the limited efficency and technical problems,
In 2010 three Israeli Rafael Sky Shield pods for Electronic Warfare on Embraer/Aeromacchi AMX (not on Tigers) were in use. ECM capability was again restored with the enter in service of Embraer/Northrop F-5EMs.
story of Brazilian Air Force air-to-air missiles is very variable, with
high and lows. It starts when AIM-9B Sidewinder were requested at the
time of original purchase (1973), in addition to the standard 2x20mm
cannons each with 250 rounds, conventional
500 lbs/1000 lbs bombs, napalm bombs, air-to-ground rockers, but supply was refused by the USA government.
It was early realised that
the air-to-air missiles could dramatically improve the capabilities of fighter aircrafts, but early exact
purchasing/use of them is sketchy and
details below might not be 100% exact.
1975 AIM-9B Sidewinders (both active and training missiles) were
purchhased in 1975 and retired in the 90s; they served only to
balance the wings of the aircrafts, never being used operationally, only for
training purposes. They could be seen till 2007 at F-5Es wingtips only use for structural stabilization.
Shortly used early Sidewinder AIM-9B prepared aircrafts of the 1° Esquadrao/14° Grupo Av. Northrop F-5E
4870 with wingtip Mectron MAA-1 Piranha, underfuselage cokpit painted on,
big tanks and training
Photo: JA Moraes de Oliveira Filho
A project to replace AIM-9B with a local short range, infra-red, air-to-air missile was started in March 1976 at the Brazilian AF own Instituto de Aeronautica e Espaço (IAE) at Sao José dos Campos (at present named
DCTA). It was named MAA-1
Piranha and was equivalent to third generation US AIM-9L Sidewinder or IAI Typhon 3. Unfortunately this project had to overcome enormous
financial and other difficulties, having
started in 1976, abandoned in 1986 and later completed ending circa 20
years later! In 1994 initial operational capability was reached.
phase included release of missiles from Norththop F-5E (serial 4837)
and EMB-326 (serial 4558) between 23rd and
The second development phase ended
in 2003 and production was then started; the Brazilian AF received 4 production
missiles types in
order to have
operational tests. These
were MAA-1T for instruction, MAA-1E for
excerrcises plus an inert
model for training,
tests in 2002-2003 showed
missile superior to the third generation requirerments of the Air
were made by an Northrop F-5E to adapt the missile to the Mirage 2000
in local use; in 2005 tests were flown
against flare armed Sea
1994 the private company Mectron took definitely the project
over, equipping the missile with higher Electronic
and performance to deal with decoys and pyrotechnics. First
test was on 03-11-98, initial
operational capability was in
2002 together with the last
tests, conducted test firings from
Xavante, Embraer/Northrop F-5E and
Mirage IIIE aircrafts.
tests were done between 1999
and 2005 by the
da Aeronautica (CTA).
2002 Air Force units started to receive its first Brazilian
traning missiles, but it was never operationally integrated on
Photo: gray Embraer/Northrop F-5EM 4865 with a training
Mectron MAA-1, special Tiger drawing on the fuselage and
years anniversary of the 1°/14° GAv mentioned on
In the meantime the Brazilian AF tried to buy
Sidewinder AIM-9L without success as the USA offered only the
older AIMD-9D or AIM9-G/H Sidewinder.
Mectron was also contracted in December 2006 for a
fourth generation improved version, MAA-1B Piranha, developed
in a joint development venture with Airbus and Defence and Space company. Tests
be completed by April 2012;
they form part of the present armament.
Esquadraos 1°/1° GAvCa, Jambock,
1°/4° GAvCa. Pacau, and 1°/14° GAvCa participated to a missile training
session at Canoas AB. Some of the launched missile against a flare
launched by another Tiger had an
inert head while others were with active one.
Mectron MAA-1 Piranha (part of 10) ready to be mounted of Tigers in 2014
Launch of an MAA-1 (possibly B) from an Embraer/Northrop F-5EM Photo: Brazilian AF
Launch of a Rafael 3 from an Embraer/Northrop F-5EM Photo Brazilian AF/DCTA
A further contract with the Brazilan
company Mectron was signed in December 2016; tests were foreeseen to start in 2016 with the new Datalink BR-2, enabling the link of
Embaer/Northrop F-5EM, Embraer AMX,
Embraer E-99 and
Embraer A-29s to put all aircrafts in one information envinroment.
1997 air-to-air missiles were again purchased in the form of Rafael
Python 3, integrated in February of 1997. Real and training versions
were bought. This was the first actually used during excercises
starting in 2001 and ending in 2005.
air-to-air missiles deliveries are: 44 third generation Mectron
MAA-1 Piranha, Raphael Python 3 (probably 400, delivered
38 Rafael Derby (already in use in 2006), 200
fourth generation Rafael
Python 4 (possibly received between
2010 and 2015) from Israel. Certification programme for integration of the Derby training version
into the Tigers started in March 2017, completed by the end of June 2017.
R-Darter were also tested on the Tigers.
F-5EM 4864 with underwing Rafael Python 3 at S Cruz AB on 22-04-07 Full air-to-air miissile load: short range wing-tip Mectron MAA-1 and underwing medium range Derby missile
Both photos: Brazilian AF
improvement of the Tiger's air-to-air capability was the joint venture between the South African
company Denel-Dynamics and Brazilian companies Mectron, Opto Eletronica and
April 2007, finalized by 2018) of the A-Darters. In 2005
it was announced the purchase of 10 South African A-Darter stock
tests on the Embraer/Northrop F-5EM.
problems due to the downturn of Brazilian economy make in 2019 the
participation to its development doubtful, though official Brazilian
certification was given on 26-09-19 at Brasilia.