Paramount’s Mwari racking up flying hours in Mozambique while weapons integration progresses

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As the launch customer for the Mwari intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) and strike aircraft, Mozambique has accumulated over 70 hours of flying on the type, which Paramount is hoping to sell to other African and European customers.

This was revealed by Paramount Aerospace Industries (PAI) at the Defence, Security Equipment International (DSEI) 2023 exhibition currently underway in London. The company said with deliveries underway to the Mozambican Air Force, it has been recently revealed that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has ordered several Mwari platforms. Mozambique has ordered three aircraft, and the DRC six.

Paramount at DSEI gave an update on the Mwari’s integration of advanced weapons systems. Weapons testing and certification are expected to commence towards the end of the fourth quarter of this year/early first quarter of 2024, to be undertaken by Paramount Aerospace Industries, “ensuring vertical integration and manufacture of the latest rendition of the company’s own intellectual property (IP).” The specifics of newly adopted mission and weapons systems will be disclosed at a later date.

Paramount said additional integration of modern command, control and communications base systems architecture further enables the Mwari to serve as a critical link between aircraft, ground forces and forward-operating bases (FOBs). “Advanced technologies are leveraged to transmit next-level intelligence and real-time analysis, ensuring that the Mwari can play a key role in coordinating responses, redefining the very nature of precision-strike,” Paramount said in a statement.

Armed overwatch market report

On the first day of DSEI, Paramount commissioned and published a market intelligence report revealing that global air capability spending will reach over $476 billion over the next five years, with the Armed Overwatch/ISR market estimated to provide $32.3 billion of opportunities.

“The market report further emphasises the changing threat perceptions in continental Europe and beyond. Increased readiness against near-peer scenarios suggests that traditional 4th and 5th generation fighters will have very limited applicability to modern-day counter-insurgency operations,” Paramount stated.

“Made for portable production, the Mwari creates a sustainable security solution for any nation, no longer reliant on foreign powers. We are pleased to showcase at DSEI 2023 the Mwari’s critical role in an inter-connected battlefield, providing forces on the ground and in the air with a force multiplier competitive advantage,” Steve Griessel, Paramount Global CEO, said.

Speaking at DSEI, Paramount founder Ivor Ichikowtiz said Paramount is aiming to sell the Mwari to European countries. “Absolutely we believe that a lot of NATO countries are going to have operational requirements for this class of aircraft,” Ichikowitz told Janes. “We know Portugal [has a light attack and ISR requirement], and we are talking to a number of smaller NATO countries who have limited air force capabilities. There are a lot of countries that have requirements for aircraft like [Embraer/Sierra Nevada Corporation] Super Tucano, but they want a broader capability.”

Janes noted that Austria and the Netherlands have an interest in the Mwari class of aircraft in addition to Portugal.

The Mwari is the first new clean-sheet manned military aircraft in South Africa since the Rooivalk attack helicopter. First flight of the Experimental Demonstrator (XDM) was in July 2014, followed by the Advanced Demonstrator (ADM), which was built for testing weapons and mission systems.

The Mwari is marketed as a relatively inexpensive alternative to high-end military aircraft for surveillance, maritime patrol and counter-insurgency operations. It can also be used for training. The Mwari has been designed to easily perform multiple missions thanks to an innovative Interchangeable Mission Systems Bay (IMSB), located in the belly of the aircraft, providing near-endless sensor and payload options which can be integrated and be swapped out in less than two hours. Open-architecture and flexible systems allows for the quick and low-cost integration of new pods, avionics, cargo, special mission equipment, weapons and sensors.

The PT6 turboprop-powered Mwari has a service ceiling of up to 31 000 feet, and offers a maximum cruise speed of 250 knots, a mission range of up to 550 nautical miles with ordinance and an overall endurance of up to 6.5 hours. The aircraft also offers a short take-off and landing (STOL) capability, with retractable landing gear optimised for both semi and unprepared airstrips or sites.

Sensors and equipment that have already been fitted to the aircraft include Hensoldt’s Argos II electro-optical gimbal, Paramount Advanced Technologies’ 420 sensor ball, Thales’s Avni thermal reconnaissance system, Sysdel’s MiniRaven radar warning receiver, and Reutech’s ACR510 radio, amongst others. Future options could include a synthetic aperture radar (SAR).

Mwari has been designed with portable production in mind. The aircraft could, depending on customer requirements, be exported in kit format for final assembly in customer countries and can easily integrate into supply chains around the world, enabling scalable mass production.