Baragwanath-based aerospace company Vliegmasjien has showcased its prototype C-Wolf multi-role amphibious aircraft at the Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition outside Pretoria this week.
Two more versions of the aircraft are planned, namely the military M-Wolf ‘Induna’ (in prototype stage) and the unmanned U-Wolf ‘Tokoloshe’, currently in the design phase.
Described as an ‘AUV’, or ‘Aerial Utility Vehicle’, the aircraft has a pusher configuration and is capable of low speeds as well as an endurance of 16 hours in the air, or range of 3 500 kilometres. This would include low-speed loitering which would be ideal for anti-poaching operations. This would also allow for use as a piloted surveillance aircraft, which could carry various types of sensors as well as carry at least seven people.
Speaking at the aircraft stand at AAD, which runs from 14 to 18 September, Vliegmasjien spokesman Elrick Mentz pointed out that the basic fuselage design was inspired by a raindrop, which is naturally aerodynamic. He added the fuselage bottom was designed like a speedboat, while the pontoons (floats) were designed using jet ski technology.
He said the canard was designed to increase aerodynamic stability especially in case of a stall, which in the case of the C-Wolf would merely bring the aircraft to straight and level flight.
The wing trailing edge is lifted one-and-a-half degrees, which would cause the pilot to feel a flutter just before a stall, allowing for better control.
The aircraft has completed over 80 per cent of its trials but Mentz was hesitant to give a concrete date for the first flight, as this was up to the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) and the completion of the prototype. The aircraft has its engine, the locally manufactured Adept Airmotive 320T, installed and the propeller fitted. The 3.2 litre turbocharged V6 puts out 320 brake horsepower.
Vliegmasjien is hoping to interest civilian buyers in the C-Wolf as a pleasure craft and is considering buyers in the Bahamas and the UAE, but the aircraft also has the potential to serve as an excellent home-grown platform for the South African National Defence Force or other militaries, notably in hard-to-access areas like St Lucia or other wetland regions on the continent, including the much-troubled Niger River Delta or the Okavango.