Paramount Group, Africa’s largest privately-owned defence and aerospace company, has been nominated in the innovation category of US Aviation Week magazines’ Laureate Award for its AHRLAC, the first military fixed wing aircraft to be fully designed, tested and developed in Africa.
Paramount Group is the only African company to be shortlisted in any of seven award categories.
This nomination coincides with AHRLAC reaching a milestone of 50 hours of successful incident free test flying. It has undertaken more than 55 flights since its first flight during July this year.
The aircraft addresses a key industry need by performing the combined tasks that previously required four separately configured planes. It integrates designs from attack helicopters, surveillance platforms and reconnaissance aircraft with the ability to carry surveillance, weapons, radar and electronic warfare systems. This has brought advanced operational solutions, historically requiring more costly aircraft or complex unmanned aerial surveillance systems.
Aviation Weeks’ Laureate Awards were conceived over 50 years ago to recognize the extraordinary achievements of individuals and teams in aviation, aerospace, and defence. Their accomplishments embody the spirit of exploration, innovation, vision, or any combination of these attributes that inspire others to strive for significant, broad-reaching progress in aviation and aerospace.
Paramount Group Executive Chairperson, Ivor Ichikowitz, says: “We are excited that AHRLAC is being recognised at the highest levels of the global aviation and defence industry. This is a proud moment for Paramount and the AHRLAC team of engineers and technicians who have invested so much of their creativity, energy and ‘can-do’ mentalityto develop this unique aircraft. But it is also a proud moment for South Africa and the rest of the African continent to showcase our aerospace capability through innovative design, technologies and manufacturing processes.”
AHRLAC is a ground-breaking example of what Africa is capable of producing and will be a key solution to bolster Africa’s capability to deal with its security issues. However, AHRLAC is not only a solution for Africa, but for defence forces around the world, whether from developing countries or from nations with advanced and sophisticated defence capabilities.
The aircraft was designed and built by a team of 60 engineers and technicians.One of the most innovative aspects of the construction phase is that 98% of all 6 000 parts of the aircraft airframe were designed and produced locally by the engineering team.Since the launch of the project in September 2011, the team spent 315 000 labour hours completing detailed designs and manufacturing the first prototype.
“AHRLAC is creating the next generation of engineers on the continent, and is an excellent reflection of the capabilities of African engineers. There are a number of skills challenges in South Africa and beyond our borders, but the incredible progress made by local engineers has put them at the forefront of global aerospace innovation. Their joint expertise has turned them into pathfinders, who are proudly setting new milestones, through continuous innovation that we can export to the world,” concludes Ichikowitz.