Paramount Group is preparing for the industrialisation of its AHRLAC (Advanced High-Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft) including the construction of a state-of-the-art factory and a new runway, as global interest in the aircraft continues to grow with a number of air forces in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world evaluating the aircraft.
Since its first flight in July 2014 the prototype aircraft has successfully completed 65 hours of successful incident-free test flying. The vigorous flight test programme is now moving onto the next phase expanding the flight envelope in key areas of the aircraft’s performance including handling qualities, airframe systems, centre of gravity, performance ranges and rough field capabilities.
Paramount Group Executive Chairperson, Ivor Ichikowitz says: “AHRLAC’s journey from concept to development and first prototype has been incredible. We had a tremendous reaction to the first flight of the aircraft and this has resulted in a number of in depth discussions with potential customers across the world, but we have seen particular interest from across the Middle East region. We have always understood the strong relevance of AHRLAC as an innovative, multi-role and cost-effective solution to the environments and threats that air forces are facing in the region.”
Paramount Group has identified a location in South Africa that will allow the company to develop a bespoke state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. Planning for the development of the site is in advanced stages. The design will ensure that the factory will adhere to very high environmental standards making it one of the greenest manufacturing sites in South Africa.
The construction of the Advanced Demonstrator (ADM) which is being built to the same standards as a full production aircraft is making excellent progress and once completed will be used as a development platform for AHRLAC’s mission and weapons systems. As a result of the process the aircraft has now been full industrialised and can go into production incorporating customer specific requirements within 14 months.
Key components of the ADM have been completed including advanced mission equipment and the integration of the Martin Baker’s new MK 17 ejection seats.
Ichikowitz added: “The aircraft’s performance has matched all our initial predictions very closely and its systems have performed as they should. AHRLAC has shown itself to be predictable, intuitive and easy to fly; a true testament to the aerodynamic modeling done in the early stages of concept development.
“The use of proven components results in a highly cost effective platform, but also gives multiple options for latest technology insertion in mission systems, surveillance equipment and weapon delivery. We are moving full steam ahead with plans for the next phase of the journey; industrialisation.”
The aircraft addresses a key industry need by performing the combined tasks that previously required four separately configured aircraft. It integrates designs from 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.
The aircraft was designed and built by a team of 60 engineers and technicians. One of the most innovative aspects of the construction phase is that 98% of all 6 000 parts of the airframe were designed and produced locally by the engineering team. Since the launch of the project in September 2011, the team spent 315 000 labour hours completing detailed designs and manufacturing the first prototype.