South African military have ordered nine of Paramount Aerospace Industries’ Mwari aircraft, the first military aircraft to be designed and produced in the nation in nearly two decades, the private South African defense business announced on Wednesday.
On the sidelines of the Africa Aerospace and Defense show in Pretoria, Paramount revealed that the first of the propeller-driven reconnaissance, surveillance, and precision attack aircraft would be delivered this week.
Paramount declined to give the names of the Mwari’s first two buyers. However, the business said that its sales strategy focused on military clients in developing nations in Asia and Africa.
Ivor Ichikowitz, the founder of Paramount Group, stated that there is “immense interest” worldwide. The ability to quickly ramp up manufacturing capacity to satisfy demand will be our biggest problem right now.
Due to embargoes imposed by the racist apartheid regime, the defense industry once had a significant impact on South Africa’s economy. It was one of the most diversified non-aligned arms industries in the world.
But more recently, it has been hurt by a global restraint on defense spending and a sluggish domestic economy.
The last military aircraft developed and produced in South Africa was the Rooivalk, an assault helicopter created by the country’s state-owned defense corporation Denel in the 1980s. However, it was never produced on a wide scale, and production ceased in the early 2000s.
The Mwari’s construction started in 2010. For surveillance, marine patrol, and counter-insurgency activities, Paramount offers it as a reasonably priced substitute for expensive, high-maintenance military aircraft.
With upgrades like electronic information collection, night vision, and high-tech optical pods, the base model can cost up to $10 million.
The aircraft’s development has so far cost Paramount more than $250 million.
According to Ichikowitz, the ultimate goal was to sell modular manufacturing facilities that would enable clients to locally create their own Mwari variants. Similar methods are already employed by Paramount to create land vehicles in various areas throughout the world.
According to Ichikowitz, Paramount invented the idea of portable production some time ago. The first of the micro-factories that will eventually be constructed around the world to create this aircraft is what we have in South Africa.