Despite long-running funding problems, South Africa's aerospace industry has managed to survive, albeit in slightly smaller shape than it once way. But the appetite to do more has never gone away.
Now, two local companies are hoping the hot light attack and reconnaissance market may change those fortunes. The Paramount Group and Aerosud have announced plans to build the Advanced High-Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft (AHRLAC), a 300 knot maximum cruise speed, 800 kg. payload, 1,150 naut. mi. range two-person aircraft able to operate from unimproved and short runways.
For the light attack role, the aircraft with four to six hardpoints under the wing could be equipped with a 20 mm cannon, rocket pods and beyond visual range air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles.
(Photo: Aerosud/Paramount Group)
Aerosud managing director, Paul Potgieter, sees the aircraft being used for a broad range of missions from basic visual reconnaissance to advanced electronic surveillance, and intelligence, to armed patrol. The high-wing design is aimed at improving visibility.
Potgieter adds that “we believe that the pilot remains core to conducting effective air operations. In AHRLAC we have produced an aircraft that is, unlike most UAVs, both autonomously capable and offers high survivability, with none of the sub-systems costs related to the operation of UAVs.”
Aircraft production would be centered around the Centurion Aerospace Village (CAV) near the Waterkloof Air Force Base.