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South Africa’s AHRLAC/Mwari Aircraft Moving to Full Production

 

South Africa’s Paramount Group and its AHRLAC Holdings partners announced that it is ramping up to full production of the Advanced High Performance and Reconnaissance Light Aircraft (AHRLAC) and its military variant, the Mwari, in a press release Tuesday.

The aircraft is intended as an affordable, versatile, light reconnaissance and strike aircraft that can also take on some of the roles of unmanned aerial vehicles. The aircraft is a twin-boom design, pusher turboprop-powered and featuring slightly forward-swept wings and a steeply stepped tandem cockpit for good visibility. An unmanned version has also been proposed.

One of the aircraft’s features is an Interchangeable Multi-Mission Pod System (IMPS) under the aircraft’s cockpit. The interchangeable pod allows a single airframe to be used in multiple roles, and can carry various systems ranging from ELINT, COMINT, SAR, and FLIR to cargo.

The group announced that the Production Development Model (PDM) AHRLAC aircraft represents the production standard, with new features such as retractable undercarriage and the latest Martin Baker ejection seats, a not unimportant addition to a pusher propeller aircraft.

Other features of the PDM include:

  • Revised cockpit canopies with OBOGS oxygen system
  • Retractable undercarriage
  • Mission systems
  • Martin Baker ejection seats
  • A more sophisticated open-architecture avionics system, allowing “plug and play” operations
  • Design upgrades to the fuselage including lighter 8G rated airframe
  • A new, quieter propeller and exhaust system
  • Improved handling

The PDM completed its first flight July 14, 2017, and has since been flight-testing the new features and expanding the flight envelope.

“We have made tremendous progress in the last few months to take AHRLAC into production at our new facility in South Africa,” said Founder and Executive Chairman of Paramount Group Ivor Ichikowitz.  “This is a very exciting time for us, our partners and customers who are anticipating the arrival of the aircraft and its unique capabilities on the global market.

“It brings us one step closer to addressing a key industry need – the capability to conduct numerous missions, in a variety of environments that previously required multiple aircraft,” Ichikowitz said. “It offers a cost-effective solution to maintaining aeronautical relevance and effectiveness in an increasingly demanding, and ever changing world.”

AHRLAC Mwari pair

The AHRLAC and its military variant Mwari are planned as affordable ISR and light strike aircraft. Paramount Group photo

The second aircraft, and first prototype (XDM) underwent flight-testing from remote and unprepared airstrips and coastal locations, and flew extended missions at high temperatures, notching up more than 300 hours on the engine.

XDM is now carrying out integration trials on its sensor suite, including a stabilized electro-optical sight (EOS) with laser designator, wide area infrared line scanner and synthetic aperture search radar.

One of the aircraft’s features is an Interchangeable Multi-Mission Pod System (IMPS) under the aircraft’s cockpit. The interchangeable pod allows a single airframe to be used in multiple roles, and can carry various systems ranging from ELINT, COMINT, SAR, and FLIR to cargo.

The AHRLAC military variant, the Mwari, can carry a range of sensor and weapon systems adapted to prospective client needs.

“The AHRLAC aircraft and its military version, the Mwari, both in their design and operational capabilities, are real game-changers for the aerospace industry,” Ichikowitz said. “We have created a truly-intelligent ‘SMART’ platform. We have not simply created an armed variant of a civilian crop-duster, but produced an aircraft designed for ISR and CAS missions in every millimeter of its design. It is designed for purpose – specifically for the kind of remote, hybrid ISR and CAS missions that the world’s air forces are increasingly being called upon to perform.

“I am proud of the fact we have rapidly created a truly versatile and cost effective aircraft that will maintain pace with ever-changing technological and security demands. This sets the aircraft apart from anything else in the aerospace industry.

“This aircraft is ideally suited to be equipped with weapons systems that fit in perfectly with the inventory of any air force, where the mission requires that they be able to see and detect, track and transmit data and, if necessary, to strike with surgical effect,” Ichikowitz said.