Atlas Aircraft Corporation

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The Atlas Aircraft Corporation of South Africa (also known as Atlas Aviation) was established in 1965 [1] to manufacture a number of sophisticated military aircraft and avionics equipment for the South African Air Force, as well as for export. It was established primarily to circumvent the international arms embargo (United Nations Security Council Resolution 418) commenced in 1963 [2] against the South African government because of its Apartheid policies.

South Africa Republic in the southernmost part of Africa

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European (White), Asian (Indian), and multiracial (Coloured) ancestry.

Avionics electronic systems used on aircraft, artificial satellites, and spacecraft

Avionics are the electronic systems used on aircraft, artificial satellites, and spacecraft. Avionic systems include communications, navigation, the display and management of multiple systems, and the hundreds of systems that are fitted to aircraft to perform individual functions. These can be as simple as a searchlight for a police helicopter or as complicated as the tactical system for an airborne early warning platform. The term avionics is a portmanteau of the words aviation and electronics.

South African Air Force Air warfare branch of the Republic of South Africas armed forces

The South African Air Force (SAAF) is the air force of South Africa, with headquarters in Pretoria. The South African Air Force was established on 1 February 1920. The Air Force has seen service in World War II and the Korean War. From 1966 the SAAF was involved in providing infantry support in a low intensity war in Angola, South-West Africa (Namibia) and Rhodesia. As the war progressed, the intensity of air operations increased until in the late 1980s, the SAAF were compelled to fly fighter missions against Angolan aircraft in order to maintain tactical air superiority. On conclusion of the Border War in 1990, aircraft numbers were severely reduced due to economic pressures as well as the cessation of hostilities with neighbouring states. Today the SAAF has a limited air combat capability and has been structured towards regional peace-keeping, disaster relief and maritime patrol operations. During the apartheid era, it was known by its Afrikaans name of Suid-Afrikaanse Lugmag, a moniker which has since been depreciated.


With the establishment in 1968 of the South African government-owned conglomerate named Armscor (Armaments Corporation of South Africa), the Atlas Aircraft Corporation was also brought under Armscor's control. [3]

Conglomerate (company) two or more corporations that fall under one corporate group

A conglomerate is a combination of multiple business entities operating in entirely different industries under one corporate group, usually involving a parent company and many subsidiaries. Often, a conglomerate is a multi-industry company. Conglomerates are often large and multinational.

Armscor (South Africa)

Armscor, the Armaments Corporation of South Africa is the arms procurement agency of the South African Department of Defence. It was originally established in 1968 as an arms production company, primarily as a response to the international sanctions by the United Nations against South Africa due to apartheid which began in 1963 and were formalised in 1967.

In 1992 Atlas was absorbed into a new entity known as Denel, becoming part of Denel Aviation. [4]

Denel armaments manufacturer from South Africa

Denel SOC Ltd is a South African state-owned aerospace and military technology conglomerate established in 1992. It was created when the manufacturing subsidiaries of Armscor were split off in order for Armscor to become the procurement agency for South African Defence Force (SADF), now known as the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), and the manufacturing divisions were grouped together under Denel as divisions.

Denel Aviation is the aircraft maintenance division of the state-owned Denel corporation of South Africa. It is one of the successors of the Atlas Aircraft Corporation.


Production aircraft

Atlas built and maintained a variety of aircraft: [1]

Aermacchi MB-326 jet training aircraft family by Aermacchi

The Aermacchi or Macchi MB-326 is a light military jet trainer designed in Italy. Originally conceived as a two-seat trainer, there have also been single and two-seat light attack versions produced. It is one of the most commercially successful aircraft of its type, being bought by more than 10 countries and produced under licence in Australia, Brazil and South Africa. It set many category records, including an altitude record of 56,807 ft on 18 March 1966. More than 800 MB-326s were constructed between 1961–1975.

Jet engine reaction engine which generates thrust by jet propulsion

A jet engine is a type of reaction engine discharging a fast-moving jet that generates thrust by jet propulsion. This broad definition includes airbreathing jet engines. In general, jet engines are combustion engines.

Trainer aircraft Aircraft designed for training of pilots and aircrew

A trainer is a class of aircraft designed specifically to facilitate flight training of pilots and aircrews. The use of a dedicated trainer aircraft with additional safety features—such as tandem flight controls, forgiving flight characteristics and a simplified cockpit arrangement—allows pilots-in-training to safely advance their real-time piloting, navigation and warfighting skills without the danger of overextending their abilities alone in a fully featured aircraft.

Atlas also assisted the South African Air Force to maintain its fleet of planes that had been purchased (mostly) prior to the onset of sanctions in the 1970s.

Prototypes and unbuilt aircraft

See also

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Atlas XH-1 Alpha prototype attack helicopter

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Denel Dynamics division of Denel, arms manufacturer

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  1. 1 2 "South African Air Force Equipment". 2006-11-26.
  2. "Arms Embargo against Apartheid South Africa". Richard Knight. 2006-11-26.
  3. "South Africa's arms industry". Peter Batchelor (International Development Research Center). 2006-11-26. Archived from the original on 2006-11-19.
  4. "The Case of Denel". Peter Batchelor (International Development Research Center). 2006-11-26. Archived from the original on 2006-11-24.