Paramount Group has unveiled its new Smart Weapons Integration on Fast-Jet Trainers (SWIFT) mission system, which it is marketing on the Leonardo M-345 jet trainer that is being marketed in Africa.
The SWIFT mission system was launched on 20 September at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition outside Pretoria after Paramount signed a collaboration agreement with Leonardo on the development of a customised SWIFT mission system targeting African Air Forces for its M-345 jet trainer.
SWIFT builds on Paramount’s FLASH (Flexible Light Armaments System for Helicopters) weapons and sensor suite. According to Ralph Mills, CEO of Paramount Advanced Technologies (PAT), SWIFT could include items such as South African guided weapons like the Al Tariq and Mokopa, as well as laser-guided rockets or cannon pods
“FLASH and SWIFT are focused on current threats and current customer requirements. Both products have low acquisition and operation costs. They are both suitable for non-conventional or asymmetric warfare. They address the customers growing need for multi-role configuration to adapt to different mission roles without major re-configuration and extended time delay. The platforms can be described as short timeframe, light combat and surveillance solution utilising the best of the best in the defence industry,” Mills stated.
Lucio Valerio Cioffi, Leonardo’s Aircraft Division Managing Director, said: “We think that the collaboration with a high-level partner such as Paramount is strategic to develop a new M-345 trainer operational configuration for the African market. The M-345 is a basic/advanced trainer with multirole capabilities and costs comparable to a turboprop aircraft. These characteristics and more make the M-345 perfectly suited for the African market.”
Leonardo is also looking at partnering with Paramount on the SF-260 trainer – Paramount Aerospace already flies the SF-260 at its aviation training academy in Polokwane. Leonardo is also offering its C-27J transport, special mission ATR 72 and M-345 and M-346 jet trainers to Africa.
Like FLASH, SWIFT is scalable and allows users to select an equipment fit for tasks ranging from basic observation to anti-tank operations. Nearly 40 companies from around the world are collaborating on the FLASH system with 15 companies having signed marketing agreements, offering everything from weapons to helicopter ballistic protection panels, and avionic displays, such as satellite communications. Partners include GAC Laser, Genesys Aerosystems, Hensoldt, Honeywell, M-Tek, Transworld, FZ, Tellumat, Cliff’s Way and Tower 35.
“It is through collaboration on a global scale that we have been able to develop and bring to market, first FLASH and now SWIFT. The development of these two platforms embodies a collaborative approach where all the Paramount partners contribute to the solution and providing a robust, highly supportable and a cost effective light weaponized solution. This collaboration of South African and global defence OEMs create a broader marketing and support network. Some of our partners include Thales FZ, Hensoldt, Genesys Aero, FN Herstal and Denel Dynamics,” Mills said.
FLASH has been incorporated onto the Fennec helicopters and the FLASH system already has a launch customer in the Middle East, but PAT has acquired its own AS550 Fennec demonstrator/prototype that has fitted with different FLASH weapons and equipment options. This is on display at AAD 2018.
The basic FLASH weapons kit will comprise 70 mm rockets and 12.7 mm cannon pods but this can be expanded to 20 mm cannon pods and guided weapons. The AS550 Fennec demonstrator is fitted with a helmet-mounted display, electro-optical turret, mission display, GPS receiver, air data, attitude and heading reference system (ADAHRS), mission computer, and weapons.
Various armament options are available such as FN RMP gun pod; 12 tube rocket launchers; 20 mm cannon pods; Thales FZ unguided rockets; Thales FZ guided rockets; 68 mm guided missiles and Ingwe anti-tank missiles.
PAT envisions the FLASH System ranging from FLASH Scan to an equipped helicopter being able to carry out a wide array of roles, such as armed reconnaissance; fire support; observation and surveillance; airborne command and control; maritime patrol; counter insurgency; training; border surveillance and anti-poaching. The FLASH system can be extended to other rotary wing solutions such as the A109, Bell 212, Mi-17, etc.