South Africa’s Paramount Group has announced that its new factory for the Advanced High-performance and Reconnaissance Light Aircraft (AHRLAC) at Wonderboom International Airport is fully operational. A February 6 statement said production has begun for several undisclosed launch customers. The company expects to build up to six aircraft this year and 24 per year by 2020, with an eventual annual production target of 36.
The prototype has now flown for more than 300 hours and has been tested in extreme temperatures and austere environments. Since July 14, 2017, Paramount is flying a lighter, quieter, substantially improved version, built to production standards. The AHRLAC production development model is equipped with Martin-Baker ejection seats, an onboard oxygen-generation system, retractable landinggear and a modern, integrated avionics suite.
Paramount Group’s Founder and Executive Chairman Ivor Ichikowitz said: “[The AHRLAC] brings us one step closer to addressing a key industry need: the capability to conduct numerous missions, in a variety of environments that previously required multiple aircraft. It offers a cost-effective solution to maintaining aeronautical relevance and effectiveness in an increasingly demanding and everchanging world.”
Paramount Group claims the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboproppowered AHRLAC can take-off in 550m (1,800ft) with a full load of 800kg (1,763lb). Maximum cruising speed is quoted at 300kts (500km/h), service ceiling as 31,000ft (9,448m) and the maximum range as 1,080 nautical miles (2,000km).