South Africa’s AHRLAC aircraft has been saved by fresh cash injection from Paramount Group.
Paramount has resumed production of the aircraft at its Wonderboom airport facility after investing almost ZAR1 billion (USD57.4 million) in its business rescue plan.
The Ahrlac light combat aircraft was funded by Paramount through a Aerospace Development Corporation joint venture. The aircraft was first designed by Aerosud.
Paramount said that the Wonderboom facility have been ramped up to ensure the timely delivery of aircraft to customers around the world. 85% of the original staff of the Aerospace Development Corporation (ADC) have been retained the company disclosed.
The Wonderboom facility is now under the stewardship of Paramount Aerospace Industries, part of the Paramount Aerospace and Technology Group, after it was recently reopened following a dispute between Paramount and the Aerospace Development Corporation in 2018.
Under the October 2019 plan, Paramount Aerospace Industries acquired the businesses of ADC and its subsidiaries (Aerosud Innovation Centre, ADC Surveillance and Ahrlac Pty Ltd).
“Paramount has provided and facilitated significant capital as part of these business rescue processes in the form of both post commencement funding, working capital, capital investment and the assumption of liabilities and loan repayments, in accordance with the provisions of the respective plans. Further capital will be injected into the business over the coming months to support both marketing initiatives and manufacturing,” Paramount said.
Alison Crooks, CEO of Paramount Industrial Holdings stated: “This is great news for the future of the aircraft, for Paramount, for the South African Aerospace industry, as well as for the global aircraft market. Paramount’s decision, more than a decade ago, to fund the development of the Ahrlac aircraft was a matter of national pride and came at a time when the local aerospace industry was searching for a project that would invigorate the sector. Our passion for the country and for innovation is reflected in the direct investment of almost R1 billion into the project. We are grateful that this strategic programme is now secured and that we can focus on a brighter future.”
Crooks added: “We are very excited about our new management team, made up of leading experts in aircraft engineering, industrialisation and production, who are focusing on the manufacturing of the aircraft and its delivery to customers. We have been encouraged by the global interest in the aircraft and we look forward to making further new customer announcements in the near future. We would like to thank all of our employees who have stood by us and have demonstrated that the resilience, innovative spirit and can-do mentality of South Africans is as strong as ever.”
AHRLAC, is able to carry weapons, radar, surveillance equipment and electronic warfare systems. It is equipped with pods that are swappable for different roles the airplane will be used for. The swappable modules allow it to have reconnaissance, intelligence gathering, close air support, training, cargo and light attack capabilities.
A militarized version called the Mwari was built on the very successful Advanced High Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft (AHRLAC) border patrol plane.
The design was released in May 2016 although Paramount and Boeing signed the agreement in September 2014. According to the manufacturers official website, the AHRLAC/Mwari can be used to fulfill so many roles which includes Aircraft Training, Anti-Poaching/Policing, Anti-smuggling, Intelligence-Surveillance- Reconnaissance (ISR) and more importantly Counter-Insurgency operations and Border patrol.
A new version of the AHRLAC called Bronco II is a contender for the United States Special Operations Command’s (SOCOM) Armed Overwatch programme. It is being marketed by Leidos which specializes in information technology, engineering, and science solutions and targets the defense, intelligence, homeland security, civil, and health markets.
The Bronco II was originally named the Advanced High-Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft (AHRLAC), it is a light reconnaissance and counter-insurgency aircraft made by AHRLAC Holdings, a joint venture between the Paramount Group and Aerosud in South Africa