JOHANNESBURG – Manufacturers of the Pretoria-made AHRLAC (Advanced High-Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft) -- a South African light reconnaissance and counter-insurgency aircraft -- are proud that their product is attracting interest at the ongoing Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD2018) exhibition in Pretoria.
"It is built and developed in the City of Tshwane, so this a local product we are showcasing at this show. The purpose of the aircraft ... it's a border patrol, reconnaissance, light attack aircraft so it is a multirole aircraft," Leon Potgieter, director for business development at Aerospace Development Corporation spoke to African News Agency at Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria.
"This is a dual use, registered aircraft which means we can use it in military or civilian types of operations - mining, pipeline inspection and also the military operations. The nose of the aircraft had quite a few sensors on it because the engine is in the back, we opened up the nose for sensors and equipment."
Potgieter said the aircraft can easily switch between roles.
"In a normal aircraft, the role is very much set out. On our aircraft, you adapt the aircraft as the mission requires," he said.
A brand new, state of the art production facility has been established in Pretoria, and Potgieter said it's just a matter of time before the Ahrlacs are churned out of the Wonderboom, Pretoria north facility.
"This aircraft you see behind me is the production prototype, so we are readying it for production. These aircraft will be built at Wonderboom Airport. We have put up a brand new facility. It's the Fourth Industrial Revolution factory, with brand-new, state-of-the-art technology," said Potgieter.
The Ahrlac is a joint venture between the Aerospace Development Corporation and the Paramount Group.
"All the partners that have been visiting from overseas, the suppliers say it's one of the most modern factories they have seen. This is a very much proudly South African aircraft, and we are very happy to be at the show [AAD2018]," said Potgieter.
He hailed the AAD aviation extravaganza because "it removes the email trains and gives you some face to face action". The dual-use Ahrlac can be used for training or safety and security operations with its pod system allowing "easy change" between roles.
The Ahrlac, with its extended endurance, is also capable to operate "from primitive forward sites in remote areas" while offering a significant carrying capacity, according to the Aerospace Development Corporation. It has rough field capabilities, allowing it to land and take off from unsteady ground or pieces of land.
"This aircraft has a maximum endurance of 10 and a half hours if we add drop tanks. Normal endurance with internal fuel is six and a half hours. We can reach with 2000 nautical miles or 1300 nautical miles - depending on the setup. We can lift around 900 kilogrammes worth of equipment on the full fuel load - not including the drop tanks," said Potgieter.
President Cyril Ramaphosa officially opened the AAD2018 exhibition on Wednesday, saying the massive gathering has brought guests from more than 100 nations to Pretoria.
"This is a truly continental event that allows visitors from more than a hundred countries to interact with more than 500 exhibitors from more than 30 countries," said Ramaphosa.
"It brings defence agencies and defence industry together to reflect on the evolution of security – and how they must each adapt to the requirements of the future. South Africa views the role of the military in the modern context as a developmental force, both nationally and continentally."
– African News Agency (ANA)
* This story forms part of the #HighSchoolsQuiz study material. Click here for more #HighSchoolsQuiz stories.