frame 1    frame 1    Força Aerea Brasileira / Brazilian Air Force
Roundel            Fin flash            Credit:  Roundels of the world

                                        Last update 27-04-22

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Electronic warfare training and air-to-air misiles for the Northrop F-5E/Embraer Northrop F-5EM/FM.

Electronic warfare
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.

Air-to-aii missiles
The 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.

During 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
purposes. They could be seen till 2007 at F-5Es wingtips only use for structural stabilization.

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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 bomblets launcher.                      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
). 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.

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   First 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
types in order to have operational tests. These were MAA-1T for instruction, MAA-1E for excerrcises plus an inert
   model for training,

   Operational tests in 2002-2003 showed that the missile superior to the third generation requirerments of the Air Force.
   New tests 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 Skua drones.
   In 1994 the private company Mectron took definitely the project over, equipping the missile with higher Electronic
   Counter-Measures and performance to deal with decoys and pyrotechnics. First test was on  03-11-98, initial
   operational capability was in September 2002 together with the last tests, conducted test firings from Embraer AT-26
   Xavante, Embraer/Northrop F-5E and Mirage IIIE aircrafts. Development tests were done between 1999 and 2005 by the                                        Centro Tecnico da Aeronautica (CTA).
   In 2002 Air Force units started to receive its first Brazilian traning missiles, but it was never operationally integrated on
   the aircraft.

   Photo: gray Embraer/Northrop F-5EM 4865 with a training Mectron MAA-1, special Tiger drawing on the fuselage and 53
   years anniversary of the 1°/14° GAv mentioned on fuselage tank.                         Photo:  Brazilian AF

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 were to
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

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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.

During 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
in 2001 and ending in 2005.
Reported air-to-air missiles deliveries are: 44 third generation Mectron MAA-1 Piranha, Raphael Python 3 (probably 400, delivered 2001), 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.
Some R-Darter were also tested on the Tigers.

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      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

Further 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 Avibra (officially announced in
April 2007, finalized by 2018) of the A-Darters. In 2005 it was announced the purchase of 10 South African A-Darter stock missiles for tests on the Embraer/Northrop F-5EM.

Financial 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.