Paramount Group of South Africa and its partners in AHRLAC Holdings announced on 6 February that its fully digitised state-of-the-art production facility is ramping up for full production of the Advanced High Performance and Reconnaissance Light Aircraft (AHRLAC) and its military variant, the MWARI.
The production ready aircraft (PDM), which follows on from the successful AHRLAC prototype (XDM) is an order of magnitude more mature from a production perspective and boasts a range of new features, including a retractable landing gear, latest Martin Baker ejection seats, revised cockpit canopies, improved avionics and a lighter, 8G-rated airframe. PDM first flew on 14 July last year, since when it has undergone rigorous flight testing as the engineering team seeks to extend 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. 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. It offers a cost-effective solution to maintaining aeronautical relevance and effectiveness in an increasingly demanding, and ever changing world,” commented Ivor Ichikowitz, Paramount Group’s Executive Chairman.
Production will be undertaken at a vertically integrated and modular factory located at Wonderboom International Airport Complex near Pretoria. Incorporating modern workflow processes and computerised shop floor management systems, the factory draws extensively on experience developed in the large scale production of components for Boeing and Airbus, according to the company.
The military variant of the AHRLAC is dubbed MWARI – a name derived from the Shona word meaning ‘all-seeing, all-knowing being‘ – and can be fitted with customer-specified mission systems for the intelligence, reconnaissance and support (ISR) or close air support (CAS) roles. “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 millimetre 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,“ Ichikowitz explained.
One of MWARI‘s other key 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 with nearly zero down time between role changes. The pod can carry various systems ranging from ELINT, COMINT, SAR, FLIR and cargo.