Top management of the Aerospace Development Corporation (ADC) in the form of father and son team, Paul Potgieter senior and junior, aver strongly ADC is not part of the Paramount Group and is the original equipment manufacturer of the Ahrlac aircraft.
A statement, apparently issued on March 12 but received by defenceWeb on 25 March, has it that ADC as the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), design authority and manufacturer of the Ahrlac aircraft is not part of the Paramount Group.
“ADC is an independent company, financially, physically and in law. We are not Paramount.
“ADC has no agreement with the Paramount Group regarding the variant of Ahrlac referred to be Paramount as Mwari,” the Potgieters stated. ADC produces the ‘green’ Ahrlac airfame, which Paramount offers with weapons and mission equipment as the Mwari.
“The South African intellectual property with regards to our product Ahrlac will remain the property of ADC, as duly regulated, protected and governed by the appropriate South African legislative and control authorities,” the Potgieters continued.
“We thank the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa for support and guidance through this difficult time and trust the current dilemma is not far from being resolved,” said the statement issued by Paul Potgieter Jnr, chief executive ADC Ahrlac, and Paul Potgieter Snr, ADC Managing Director.
The statement also points out that ADC subscribes to and is legally obliged to follow all relevant South African and international laws.
“End user identification and appropriate approvals form a critical part of our lives in ensuring the aircraft and its mission systems end up with legitimate customers, duly approved by the South African government, in compliance with all appropriate legislation and due process,” according to the statement.
It also “sincerely thanks the many friends, colleagues, suppliers and associates who have come out strongly in support of our efforts to safeguard the interests of ADC, our aircraft Ahrlac and its team of engineers, designers and technicians, who have truly been successful in developing this world leader in the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) domain”.
An undertaking is given to “endeavour to keep our loyal friends in industry up to date with the journey of keeping Ahrlac, its staff and future safe and a South African pride”.
Earlier this month Paramount Aerospace Holdings (PAH), a Paramount Group subsidiary, applied for commencement of business rescue proceedings for ADC. It was reported at the time that PAH and the Potgieter family each have a 50% stake in ADC, formerly Ahrlac Holdings.
“Paramount Aerospace engaged for more than five months in intense negotiations between ADC shareholders to ensure sustainability of the company; the board reached deadlock. Despite Paramount’s best efforts to resolve the deadlock and inject new capital into the business, the shareholders unfortunately could not reach an agreement,” a Paramount statement said.
The conflict between Paramount and the Potgieter family reportedly stems from misappropriation of intellectual property and funding obligations.
Ahrlac, an acronym for advanced, high performance, reconnaissance light aircraft, is a high-wing, push propeller, single-engined aircraft designed as a lower cost alternative to unmanned aircraft for reconnaissance and attack missions. It first flew in 2014. Ivor Ichikowitz’s Paramount Group is said to be the launch customer for Ahrlac and apparently placed a number of orders for Ahrlac aircraft.
There has been no statement to date from either of the parties as regards business rescue proceedings for ADC.