Africa Aerospace & Defence 2018

Smart weapons integration extended to jet trainers [AAD18D2]

20 September 2018

South Africa's Paramount Group and Italy's Leonardo have launched a partnership to collaborate on a customised smart weapons mission suite for the Leonardo M-345 jet trainer, a full-scale mock-up of which is making its African debut at AAD, complete with representative weapons such as the Denel Dynamics Mokopa missile.

The mission suite, known as Swift, has been derived from the Flash weapons and sensor system that has been engineered for rotary-wing applications. A Swift-equipped M-345 is seen by both companies as having particular appeal in Africa, offering both state-of- the-art training and light attack capabilities at attractive acquisition and operating costs. Included in the Swift offering is the ability to carry ECM and targeting pods.

Both Swift and Flash have been developed by Paramount Advanced Technologies (PAT), which was established when Paramount bought ATE in 2013. The division has decades of experience working with system integration on types such as the Mirage F1, Hawk and Mi-24. Swift and Flash are scalable to cater for a variety of mission requirements, and can be quickly installed in a variety of rotary-wing and jet trainer types. The systems can be tailored to meet customer requirements in terms of sensor and weapon options. Among the local and international OEMs collaborating in the Swift and Flash programmes are Denel Dynamics, FN Herstal, Genesys Aero, Hensoldt and Thales FZ.

Having previously been shown on a Gazelle airframe, Flash (flexible light armaments system for helicopters) is being displayed at AAD installed in a company-owned Airbus Helicopters AS550 Fennec demonstrator/development aircraft. This combination has secured a launch customer in the Middle East.

In basic form the weapons kit for Flash comprises 12.7mm cannon pods, such as the FN RMP, and 12-round rocket launcher pods firing Thales FZ 68mm rockets in either guided or unguided forms.

Denel Dynamics Ingwe anti-tank missiles can also be carried. The demonstrator Fennec is currently fitted with helmet-mounted display, electro-optical sensor turrets and GPS, among other advanced systems.

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