Africa’s aerospace industry has entered a new era with the launch of a ground-breaking multi-role aviation platform. This marks the first time in Africa’s history that the continent has independently designed and manufactured its own aircraft. The market potential of the aircraft could add up to half a billion dollars to the industrial output of the South African economy.
AHRLAC is a compact twin-boom single-engine surveillance and light strike aircraft with a tandem-seated crew of two.
This comes at a time of growing threats from terrorism, piracy, cross border incursions, climate change, natural disasters and drug trafficking that has fuelled the worldwide need for a low cost aerial reconnaissance, surveillance and armed patrol system capable of supporting a wide range of operations.
The new category of aircraft will challenge the dominant Western manufacturers because of its low acquisition cost, reduced requirement for back-end support, extensive operational capabilities and greater degree of pilot situational awareness.
The project to develop an Advanced High Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft (AHRLAC) is the initiative of South African defence and aerospace giant Paramount Group together with technical partner Aerosud, South Africa’s largest aeronautical engineering company.
Ivor Ichikowitz, Executive Chairman of the Paramount Group, said: “The launch of AHRLAC marks a major milestone for Africa. For the first time in the history of the continent, Africa will be designing and manufacturing its own aircraft and can benefit from the jobs and economic growth associated with a vibrant domestic aerospace industry.”
The launch occurs as Western governments are under pressure to cut defence spending, and developing nations seek out affordable aeronautical and defence technology to tackle a variety of emerging security challenges including terrorism, the effects of climate change and increased demand for peacekeeping and humanitarian relief operations.
Ichikowitz said: “The future of South Africa’s economic development relies on the development of knowledge-based industries. AHRLAC is a clear indication of this capability. Today we have unveiled an aircraft with global relevance, which was conceived, designed, engineered and will be manufactured right here in South Africa.
Maximum platform flexibility for multi-role applications, from basic visual reconnaissance to advanced electronic surveillance, and intelligence, to light attack.
AHRLAC marks a major milestone for Africa. For the first time in the history of the continent, Africa will be designing and manufacturing its own aircraft and can benefit from the jobs and economic growth associated with a vibrant domestic aerospace industry.”