'Ahrlac' To Feature Interchangeable, Mission-Specific Belly
South African aeronautical company Aerosud on Tuesday formally
unveiled its first complete, manned aircraft design, called Ahrlac,
for Advanced High-Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft. The
company notes that apart from some light sport aircraft, this is
also the first all-South African manned aircraft design since the
Denel Rooivalk attack helicopter, which was conceived 26 years
The company claims significant interest, and says it expects to
fly the prototype next year. Wind tunnel testing has been completed
and 80 flights completed on a quarter-scale model. Construction is
described as mostly metal with composite fairings, and the company
says great effort has been put into cost-effective manufacturing to
keep the price down.
In the development of the Ahrlac, Aerosud has had the support of
South African land defense systems company Paramount, which holds
19% of the aeronautical enterprise. The companies have not divulged
the cost of the Ahrlach project. Paramount Executive Chairman Ivor
Ichikowitz commented, “This is a big project. We were under
no illusions – it was going to need a lot of cash. The
project is fully funded to the first flight and beyond. For a
production capacity of two-three aircraft a month, we have no
issues. We hope to start production next year."
Ichowitz expects the plane to sell for under $10 million, and
appeal to a wide range of military, paramilitary, policing and
civilian tasks and missions. It is designed with a pod which is
mission-specific, and aerodynamically integrated into the bottom of
the fuselage. Users can simply switch the pod to switch the role.
Pods can be configured to carry sensors, electronics, weapons and
even supplies which could be dropped by parachute.
The aircraft will also have six underwing hardpoints, to carry
weapons. Two of these hardpoints will also be fitted to carry
external fuel tanks. It will also be able to carry a 20 mm cannon,
and can be fitted with ejection seats.
The Ahrlac is a high-wing, pusher turboprop. Aerosud expects a
cruising speed of 300 knots, a payload of more than 800 kg (1,760
lb.), and a range (on internal fuel) of 1,150 nautical miles. It is
designed to be highly maneuverable and to operate from short and
unprepared airstrips, with a takeoff distance of 550 m (1,8-00
feet) with full payload.
The Ahrlac is intended for missions such as border security,
coastal patrol, internal security, environmental protection,
disaster management, as well as defense missions such as
reconnaissance, surveillance and light attack.
The Ahrlac project has not received any government funding.