In April this year a state-of-the-art aircraft factory at Wonderboom, South Africa, is scheduled to begin production of the AHRLAC ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) aircraft, which has been developed as a versatile, low-cost platform for a range of military, security and other applications. Here at IDEX Paramount Group (Stand 12-C20) is highlighting the Mwari, an armed version of the AHRLAC offering an integrated precision strike and ISR capability.
To the Shona people of southern Africa the Mwari is an “all-seeing being”. The aircraft of the same name has been developed by Paramount as a highly advanced two-seat platform that can conduct ISR missions from high altitudes and long stand-off ranges through the use of sophisticated electro-optic and electronic intelligence sensors.
In addition, the aircraft also has the agility and robustness to conduct low-level patrols for extended periods.
An integrated avionics system provides a ‘plug-and-play’ environment that caters for the easy and rapid integration of different capabilities.
The aircraft has a conformal mission bay beneath the stepped cockpit offering a considerable internal volume for the carriage of a range of equipment, and has a total of 26 hardpoints available for weapons, pods, communications and defensive systems.
Through the integrated mission systems and large cockpit screens the crew is able to build and maintain a high level of situational awareness, and through an extensive communications suite the Mwari can act as an on-scene command centre for a range of operations and tasks. Drawing on elements from both fixed-wing aircraft and attack helicopters, the design of the aircraft offers both crew an exceptional outside view, and the cockpit is fully compatible with night vision devices.
Short/rough-field capability allows the Mwari to operate from remote and austere strips. The Mwari is able to undertake missions over long endurances, and it is ideal for missions where persistence is a key attribute, such as border and maritime patrol, internal security, intelligence-gathering, disaster management and policing.
Distinguishing the Mwari from other AHRLAC-based configurations is the ability of the aircraft to engage targets. Mwari is available with a range of weapon types, with the focus on precision engagement through weapons that leverage the advantages of the aircraft’s sophisticated system to deliver precision effects with the minimum of collateral damage, such as the Denel Mokopa missile.
Paramount Group is undertaking the conversion of the baseline AHRLAC airframe to Mwari configuration at its own facility. In addition to Paramount’s ITAR-free weaponisation programme, Boeing is separately developing an integrated light strike/ISR mission system for the AHRLAC under a partnership agreement announced last year.