Paramount Group unveils new version of Mwari aircraft

Paramount Group, the African-based global defence and aerospace company has announced the launch of Mwari, a military variant of its Advanced High Performance Light Aircraft (AHRLAC) that comes with a South African designed, developed and tested advanced mission system.

A high-wing, two-seat aircraft, Mwari is designed to incorporate advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities and weapons systems.

Combining AHRLAC’s flexible, multi-role platform with Paramount’s enhanced mission systems capabilities that are in service with several air forces around the world, the company is bringing an advanced and cost-effective aircraft to the market.

Mwari addresses a key industry need by performing the combined tasks that previously required several separately configured planes. It integrates designs from attack helicopters, surveillance platforms and reconnaissance aircraft with the ability to carry surveillance, weapons, radar and electronic warfare systems. This has brought advanced operational solutions, historically requiring more costly aircraft or complex unmanned aerial surveillance systems.

“Mwari is a world class capability that will enable developing countries to strengthen and diversify their security infrastructure. It offers the global industry a new, very cost effective and multi-role solution that will change the way global air forces procure and structure their air fleets. Mwari is a solution shaped for today’s modern threats like insurgencies, piracy and terrorism,” Dr Paul Potgieter, CEO of AHRLAC Holdings.

“Within Paramount Advanced Technologies we have over 30 years of expertise in developing mission systems capabilities for our customers. We are world leaders in mission systems integration across fixed and rotary wing aircraft, having provided innovative solutions to some of the world’s leading air forces,” said Ralph Mills, CEO of Paramount Advanced Technologies.

“The development and production of Mwari is expected to provide a significant job and skills boost to the African aerospace industry as many local subcontractors will be involved in equipping the aircraft with a range of systems.”

Mwari has been specifically designed for military tasking, and features a variety of configurations thanks to its innovative pod system design. These include patrol and reconnaissance with typical missions encompassing intelligence gathering, close air support and light attack capabilities. Mwari has the ability to carry a comprehensive weapons suite for specific mission applications.

This announcement follows on the recent joint development between Paramount Group and Boeing expanding their 2014 agreement to cooperate on an advanced mission system for a variant of Mwari. Boeing will develop its own integrated mission system for the aircraft enabling ISR and light strike missions for the AHRLAC safety and security, and military variants.

The Ahrlac first flew on 26 July 2014 and had accumulated 50 hours by December that year. Key features of the aircraft include its pusher propeller design powered by a Pratt and Whitney engine and high wing for crew visibility (which also makes it suitable for training purposes), high cruise and dash speeds (maximum cruise speed is 270 knots and stall speed is 69 knots), payload capacity of 800 kilograms with full fuel and two crew, long operating range (1 110 nautical miles on internal fuel although range with external fuel goes up to 2 256 nautical miles and 9.4 hours endurance), short take-off and landing (STOL) capability, including from semi-prepared landing strips, and interchangeable belly pod for a variety of sensors and weapons.

The company is presently moving into a new 15 000m² factory that is located at Wonderboom airport outside Pretoria. The new factory will be able to produce 24 aircraft a year. New machines that are being installed will be used to manufacture the AHRLAC include a fluid cell press, only the second of its kind to be installed in South Africa.