The AHRLAC Holdings Ahrlac (Advanced High Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft) is a light reconnaissance and counter-insurgency aircraft developed in South Africa by AHRLAC Holdings, a joint venture between the Paramount Group and Aerosud. Designed as an inexpensive, more versatile substitute for unmanned aerial vehicles, the aircraft made its first flight on 26 July 2014, with the first public flight display on 13 August 2014 at Wonderboom Airport.
1 Design and development 2 Specifications 3 See also 4 References 5 External links
Design and development
Claimed by its designers to be the first fully indigenous military aircraft developed in Africa, and the first South African military aircraft of any sort since the Denel Rooivalk attack helicopter, the Ahrlac features a twin-boom, high-wing, single-pusher-engine configuration, using a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A turboprop engine, with a crew of two seated tandem in Martin-Baker ejection seats. The Ahrlac's airframe uses a mixture of metal and composite construction, and is designed to provide maximum crew visibility. The aircraft is designed to carry an internal 20 mm cannon, with 4 or 6 hardpoints for carrying weapons mounted under the wings, including rocket pods, unguided bombs, and both air-to-surface and air-to-air missiles. The lower fuselage consists of a variety of interchangeable conformal modular units fitted with a variety of sensor systems such as infrared and optical cameras, synthetic aperture radar, electronic intelligence gathering and electronic warfare equipment.
The Ahrlac is intended to compete with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the marketplace; Paramount claims that the aircraft will be cheaper to acquire and operate than UAVs, since it will not need the expensive subsystems required for remote control of unmanned aircraft. It is optimized for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and counter-insurgency missions; coastal patrol, anti-smuggling and disaster relief capabilities are also projected for the type. Its designers state that the aircraft is designed with the needs of First World customers in mind.
In 2011 a full-scale mockup was constructed and a quarter-scale model used for test flights. The price of the aircraft was projected at being under US$10 million per aircraft, with the potential market for Ahrlac being described as 'in the hundreds or thousands of units'.
The first full scale prototype was built using design for manufacture technology, which allows for jigless construction thus saving time and costs. The flight test program started in May 2014 at Wonderboom Airport near Pretoria. The ground test phase was completed in July 2014. The prototype first flew on 26 July 2014.