Bronco II: South African made Mwari goes to the US.
Bronco II: South African made Mwari
The United States has been on the search for new planes to fulfill it’s Low-Intensity Combat Warfare (LICW) role, but as expected many foreign defense technology companies offered their various designs. So far, the leading contestants in the program are the Sierra Nevada/Embraer A-29 Super Tucano and the Textron Aviation AT-6. The Air Force plans to purchase up to 300 aircraft.
The Bronco II is named after the OV-10 Bronco, a light attack and observation aircraft used by the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Marine Corps as late as 1991’s Operation Desert Storm
The Mwari is the militarized version of the AHRLAC (Advanced High-Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft ) is a light reconnaissance and counter-insurgency aircraft made by AHRLAC Holdings, a joint venture between the Paramount Group and Aerosud in South Africa.
The Mwari is greatly suited for low-intensity warfare type of role being inexpensive and capable. The Mwari was made specifically for the African market. It has a high wing configuration and powered by a single Pratt & Whitney PT6-66B engine which provides 950 horsepower on a rearward facing propeller. Its top speed is 272 knots and flies at a service ceiling of 31,000 feet
The aircraft is crewed by two personnel; a pilot and a Weapon Operator/Navigator. A remarkable feature of the Mwari (Bronco II) is that it can stay aloft for more than 7 hours which is ideal when providing Close Air Support to ground troops or when hunting for insurgents something that most jet-powered aircraft due to its higher traversing velocity. This generally makes a jet fighter unable to stay over a targeted area for long.
It can also be used for maritime patrol and by law enforcement agencies to patrol the borders and checkmate other social vices like drug smuggling, wildlife poaching, human trafficking e.t.c
The Mwari (Bronco II) can also take off and operate from an unprepared airstrip, it posses remarkable Short Takeoff and Landing capabilities, also it requires very few ground crew or technicians to keep it shipshape. increasing the turnaround time greatly. Furthermore, it has the lowest operations cost of all LICW aircraft on the planet.
In March 2016, American aerospace firm Boeing announced that it had entered into a development partnership with Paramount with the aim of producing a militarized version of the AHRLAC. Under this agreement, Boeing shall develop an integrated mission system that will provide the AHRLAC with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and weapons system capabilities.
Paramount formed a US-based subsidiary with Aerospace Development Corp (ADC), the original supplier of the AHRLAC and a Virginia based group ‘Fulcrum Concept‘ to form the Bronco Combat Systems (BCS). Fulcrum Concept would conduct weapons and systems integration according to the customer’s specifications. The Bronco Combat Systems official image was spotting a US Marine livery.
According to Fulcrum Concept President Scott Richman, he said that the Bronco II is a multi-mission aircraft with real-time C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) perfectly suited for Light Attack Missions.
Paramount Group Chairman Ivor Ichikowitz said that
“This is not simply an armed variant of a civilian crop duster or a modified aircraft,”
“Every inch of this aircraft (Bronco II) is designed for purpose-specifically for the kind of asymmetrical warfare that sophisticated military forces are now being asked to conduct.” [sic]
It has been envisioned that the aircraft shall perform various mission roles, including intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) and counter-insurgency missions; coastal patrol, anti-smuggling, and disaster relief capabilities.
The armed Mwari version is designed to carry a single 20 mm cannon, which is internally mounted into the fuselage. Additionally, it is fitted with either four or six hardpoints for carrying weapons mounted under the wings, including rocket pods, unguided bombs, and various air-to-surface and air-to-air missiles.
Armor for the aircraft is also modular and can be added or removed entirely dependent on the mission requirements.
The OV-10 Bronco the Mwari (Bronco II) might replace was also a very successful unconventional aircraft built by the North American Rockwell.
The OV-10 Bronco is a twin- turboprop light attack and observation aircraft. It was developed in the 1960s as a special aircraft for counter-insurgency (COIN) combat, and one of its primary missions was as a forward air control (FAC) aircraft. It has seen widespread service around the world and is still being used today even as a frontline fighter aircraft by the Brazilian and the Philippines Air Force respectively.