South Africa’s Paramount Group announced on 13 August that its AHRLAC [advanced high-performance reconnaissance light aircraft] has entered flight testing; just shy of three years after launching the indigenous project.
“Unique-looking” is probably the nicest way to describe the prototype’s look, although we certainly do like the chosen camouflage scheme (squint a bit and it’s almost a mini OV-10 Bronco with Slovakia’s funky MiG-29 markings; or is that just me?).
Paramount describes the twin-seater as being “the first military fixed-wing aircraft to be fully designed, tested and developed in Africa”, and lists a broad range of potential applications for a production-standard version. A handful of these include reconnaissance, intelligence-gathering, close air support, training, maritime patrol, environmental protection, border control and light attack.
That expected versatility could be the key to whether the AHRLAC becomes a commercial success – potentially with customers within and beyond Africa’s landmass.
As I reported yesterday, some 5h of flight time has been recorded to date with the prototype, which it should be noted took quite a bit longer than expected to get into the air.
Speaking as the programme was launched in September 2011, Paramount executive chairman Ivor Ichikowitz set a target of completing the flight debut in the second quarter of 2012. Despite this slip, Dr Paul Potgieter, AHRLAC Holdings chief executive, now says: “We have made all the tools for production for all sheet metal pressings and composite parts so it enables us to hit production much quicker than other aircraft.”
We’ll do our best to bring you a full update on the AHRLAC – and on the current market interest in the design – in the run-up to September’s Africa Aerospace and Defence show.