|Jf-17 armed with Brazilian MAR-1 Anti Radiation Missile.|
Robert Hewson Air-Launched Weapons Editor - London
can confirm that Pakistan has taken delivery of the Brazilian MAR-1 anti-radiation missile and is integrating the weapon on its PAC JF-17 Thunder multirole combat aircraft as well as upgraded Dassault Mirage III and V ROSE fighters.
The MAR-1 is an air-launched defence suppression weapon developed as an independent national programme by Mectron in co-operation with the Brazilian Air Force (FAB).
In 2008 a MAR-1 order from Pakistan for 100 missiles valued at EUR85 million (USD126 million) was announced by the Brazilian government, which provided export credit support for the deal. Reports from Pakistan suggested that deliveries started in 2009.
Mectron would not comment on the MAR-1 programme except to say that "we have an export client and we have delivered missiles to that client". However, during the April 2011 Latin American Aerospace and Defence (LAAD) show in Rio de Janeiro, learnt that an active integration effort is now underway for both the ROSE Mirage and JF-17 in Pakistan Air Force (PAF) service.
This confirms statements made during the 2010 Farnborough Airshow by the PAF's JF-17 Programme Manager, Air Vice Marshall Mohammad Arif, who identified the MAR-1 as a future JF-17 weapon.
The JF-17 is a co-development project between Pakistan and China. It is now in full production at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), Kamra, where about 30 aircraft have been assembled. In April 2011 the PAF stood up its second JF-17 unit (No 26 Squadron) and a third unit (No.4 Squadron) will follow later this year.
Integration of the MAR-1 with the JF-17 shows that Pakistan has a well-structured programme to expand the capability of the aircraft beyond its Chinese roots. The MAR-1 is the second non-Chinese weapon that the JF-17 is known to be adopting after the Hafr runway penetration bomb. Pakistan has also explored the possibility of adding French avionics (including radar) and weapons (including the Mica air-to-air missile) to the aircraft, but PAF JF-17 programme officials told that those options have been shelved in favour of "less politically complicated projects".
Once operational, the MAR-1 will be the PAF's only modern anti-radiation weapon and a significant boost to its combat capabilities. The missile has several operational modes, but is typically used in a pre-programmed attack against known emitting targets in a lock-on-after-launch engagement. Mectron has developed a dedicated mission planning system for such operations.
The MAR-1 is likely to operate, at least initially, with a 'missile-as-sensor' function, meaning that the weapon's own wideband radio frequency seeker is the primary sensor for emitter location and targeting. The JF-17's Chinese developers certainly have the expertise to produce a more capable emitter location system in the future. The MAR-1 can also use supplementary targeting information from the JF-17's radar warning receivers.
Pakistan has a growing number of electronic intelligence (ELINT) systems with which it can build an electronic order of battle of hostile emitters to support MAR-1 targeting. This includes the highly capable HES-21 ELINT system carried by the PAF's recently delivered Erieye airborne early warning and control aircraft.
The MAR-1 is fully MIL-STD-1553 and -1760 databus compatible. For non databus-equipped aircraft a standalone integration using a dedicated fire-control unit and display can be fitted in the cockpit. That is the approach adopted for Brazil's non-upgraded Embraer AMX (A-1) attack aircraft. The MAR-1 has yet to enter formal FAB service, but understands that qualification flight testing in Brazil will conclude by the end of 2011.
A full-scale model of Mectron's MAR-1 anti-radiation missile, which will add a significant new capability to Pakistan's JF-17 fighters.