Brazil to Sell MAR-1 SEAD Missiles to Pakistan
“Anti-radiation missiles” are designed to find, home in on, and destroy enemy air defense radars; they are often carried by specialist aircraft that accompany air strikes to perform the SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) mission. In December 2008, Brazil’s government approved a $108 million April 2008 contract with Pakistan for 100 of Mectron’s MAR-1 anti-radiation missiles. DID sources add that the deal needed the Brazilian government’s loan guarantee to become effective.
In contrast with other Mectron Engenharia missiles, such as the MAA-1 SRAAM (short range air-air missile) or the forthcoming A-Darter partnership, Mectron appears to be working hard to avoid publicity for the MAR-1. The firm would not even acknowledge the missile’s existence for many years, and details remain sketchy. Pictures like this one show a MAR-1 that appears to be similar in size to counterparts like Raytheon’s AGM-88 HARM, and has a reported range of 25 km when launched from an altitude of about 33,000 feet/ 10 km. Testing appears to have ended, and it will equip Brazil’s upgraded AMX and F-5BR aircraft once it is accepted into service.
The recent massacre perpetrated in Mumbai, India has complicated Brazil’s approval announcement. As attention is drawn to the role Pakistan’s intelligence agency has played in this and other attacks, Brazil’s Defense Minister Nelson Jobim has been forced to respond: “Brazil negotiates with Pakistan, not with Pakistani terrorists… To cancel this deal would be to attribute terrorist activities to the Pakistani government.”
Brazil’s friends in India are already doing that, of course. On the other hand, Brazil needs export customers in order to achieve its national goal of re-building its defense industries. Jobim has been quoted as saying that the deal will allow Mectron to increase its production from 1 missile per month to 5 missiles. A sale to Pakistan, followed by integration into a platform like the Pakistani-Chinese JF-17 lightweight fighter, could also open up a number of new markets for Mectron. Defesa Brazil [Portuguese] | AFP via The Straits Times | Defense News re: PAF confirms sale | Jane’s re: MAR-1 | Seguranca & Defesa article, incl. details re: MAR-1 [English].