Paramount Group’s AHRLAC (advanced high-performance reconnaissance light aircraft) is making its public debut at AAD, following the start of flight trials last month. It is the first military aircraft to be fully designed and developed in Africa.
AHRLAC has been designed and built to answer a need for an affordable multirole aircraft that is easy to operate and can answer a number of operational needs. Its unique pod system design allows it to be reconfigured for a number of roles. For intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance tasks it can carry a variety of sensors, and can also be armed for close-support duties. Alternatively, AHRLAC can be configured for training and cargo transport.
Short- and rough-field capability allows it to operate in remote areas.
AHRLAC was developed by a Paramount/ Aerosud team at the latter’s facility adjacent to Waterkloof airbase (Paramount has recently acquired Aerosud’s military business). The first aircraft is known as the XDM (experimental demonstrator) and is fitted with strain gauges and other test equipment for initial flight trials.
Following a preliminary flight test campaign using a scale model to augment wind-tunnel results and computer modelling, the completed full-scale XDM was taken by road to Wonderboom airport, from where it made a successful first flight on 13 August. Initial basic flight testing will occupy about 20 hours to validate computer predictions against actual performance and handling, before the aircraft undertakes more advanced trials.
A mobile ground telemetry station supports these flights, along with a Pilatus PC-12 chase plane fitted with diagnostic equipment. Paramount (Hangar 4, Stand A14) is now completing a second prototype, the ADM (advanced demonstrator), which will test mission and weapon systems and the Martin-Baker Mk 17 ejection seats.
AHRLAC was designed paperlessly using the latest CATIA computer-aided design and has been developed for jigless construction. The advanced design processes should allow AHRLAC to achieve production status quickly and to reduce production times. Advanced manufacturing techniques are also employed. Local suppliers to the AHRLAC programme include Paramount Advanced Technologies (formerly ATE), Denel and CSIR, while international suppliers include Pratt & Whitney (PT6A engine), Cobham and Zeiss.