Armed Mwari for launch customer

South African defence company Paramount is integrating weapons systems on the Mwari turboprop-powered light attack and surveillance aircraft for its launch customer.

Picture: Paramount

ARMED FORCE: Mwari's launch customer will include weapons systems. Picture: Paramount

Mike Levy, chief executive of Paramount Aerospace Industries, refused to confirm what weapons were being integrated nor to give an exact timeline, but did say that the launch customer would be operating armed aircraft “soon”.

The Mwari was originally branded as the advanced high-performance reconnaissance light aircraft (AHRLAC) but was renamed the Mwari in 2021.

The AHRLAC experimental demonstrator (XDM) made its maiden flight in July 2014, and the second prototype, known as the advanced demonstrator (ADM), followed as a testbed for armaments and mission systems. One of the prototypes was noted flying in Mozambique in mid-2021, presumably on demonstration trials. Paramount flew the production-standard aircraft in April 2022.

The Mwari is not South Africa’s first indigenous aircraft programme: Denel developed and produced the Rooivalk attack helicopter (among other types), but it is the first to be exported.

Paramount has said nine customisable Mwaris are currently on order for “multiple” unnamed customers, with four aircraft in build at a new factory at Wonderboom airport, near Pretoria.

Paramount supplied the first production Mwari customer aircraft to an unnamed African customer in September 2022, and the same customer was also due to take delivery of a second aircraft in March 2023.

The third Mwari built (ZU-MWA, now wearing the military registration FA-402, the first of two pre-production aircraft) has been seen operating in the troubled Cabo Delgado region in Mozambique, and there has been speculation that Mozambique is the type’s launch customer.

Jon Lake

Jon Lake

Jon is defence editor for both Arabian and African Aerospace magazines.