SOFEX 2016

Take-off for Mwari [SOFEX16D3]

12 May 2016

Paramount Group (Chalet CS3) has announced the formal launch of the Mwari, the group’s military version of the AHRLAC (advanced high-performance reconnaissance light aircraft) that is flying in prototype form. Designed by AHRLAC Holdings, the AHRLAC is a cost-effective, multirole platform with the focus on ISR (intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance) functions. The first example is nearing completion of its flight test programme, while the production demonstrator should be complete before the end of the year.

Drawing on extensive experience in both rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft, the AHRLAC team has schemed a two-seat, twin-boom aircraft powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT6A- 66 turboprop driving a pusher propeller. The cockpits are stepped to offer both occupants a superb view outside, while several types of sensor can be carried. The aircraft employs a large mission bay in the lower fuselage that can be reconfigured to meet a wide range of mission requirements, including cargo transport and air-drop. Hardpoints under the wings provide for weapons carriage.

From the outset, AHRLAC was developed to be a versatile host for a wide array of mission systems. Its electronic architecture and interfaces are designed to cater for varying requirements, allowing systems from various sources to be integrated. ‘Green’ aircraft will be built on a new production line in South Africa and then have mission equipment installed. Production aircraft could be ready for customer acceptance in less than two years.

System development is proceeding along three principal avenues. Mwari (a Swahili name of an all-seeing, all-knowing deity) is the name of the weaponised version being offered with an ITAR-free mission system developed by Paramount Advanced Technologies in South Africa. Components from non-NATO sources can also be integrated, such as elements of the Mi-24 Night Hawk helicopter upgrade developed by Paramount.

Additionally, under the strategic agreement forged between Paramount and Boeing, first announced in 2014, the two companies recently revealed an expansion of the agreement to include the separate development by Boeing of an integrated mission system with US elements for the AHRLAC in both its military and security variants.

This version could be offered for export through US Foreign Military Sales channels.

Third, the AHRLAC is being developed to answer a range of non-weaponised requirements.

The aircraft is being targeted at safety and security requirements, the civilian/private sector for various commercial special missions, policing and antipoaching duties, and training.

(391 words)