Almost three years after it announced plans to produce a low-cost, multirole aircraft for military and civilian duties, South Africa’s Paramount Group has completed the first public flight of its AHRLAC design.
The advanced high-performance reconnaissance light aircraft’s formal debut was performed at Wonderboom airport in Pretoria on 13 August – just over a month after Paramount unveiled the prototype on 10 July. Flight testing of the type has now reached a total of around 5h, the company says.
According to its developer, AHRLAC “integrates designs from attack helicopters, surveillance platforms and reconnaissance aircraft with the ability to carry surveillance, weapons, radar and electronic warfare systems.”
The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66-engined aircraft was launched in September 2011. More than 60 engineers and technicians were involved in the type's development, Paramount says. Some 98% of the prototype’s 6,000 parts were designed and produced locally, it adds, with other participants including Aerosud and Denel.
“AHRLAC will enable developing countries and advanced nations to strengthen and diversify their security infrastructure," says Ivor Ichikowitz, Paramount Group executive chairperson, who lists potential applications as including countering “insurgencies, piracy, poaching and terrorism”. The design also “presents African states with the opportunity to build up their own intelligence, militaries and national police to combat the continent’s insurgents and extremists,” he adds.
The aircraft’s characteristics and performance will be assessed during “rigorous flight testing”, Paramount says, with an advanced prototype to join the programme within months. The prototype will perform trials with sensors and weapons installed.