Milestone as Air Force gets Rooivalk
Johannesburg - Johannesburg - The completion of the latest-generation Rooivalk attack helicopter by Denel Aviation is proof of the technological growth in South Africa, its CEO Talib Sadik said on Friday.
Speaking at the handover ceremony of the Rooivalk AH-2A armed helicopter to the South African Air Force (SAAF), Sadik said it was a "historic moment" after decades of work.
"We are proud to have been involved through its inception 25 years ago, of this proudly South African, indigenous, world class and fully certified Rooivalk," he said.
The first launch of a prototype took place on February 11 1990 - the same day former president Nelson Mandela was released from prison.
In 1996, state-owned defence industrial group Denel was given a production contract for the manufacture and delivery of 12 Rooivalk aircraft for the air force.
SAAF's General Carlo Gagiano expressed appreciation to all the roleplayers, saying their relationship with Denel would still continue with regard to maintenance of the aircraft.
He said the Rooivalk will strengthen strategic capability, particularly in peace-keeping missions on the continent.
"Modern systems were integrated into the aircraft... The canon system has been rectified, its reliability is 100% ... other safety aspects have also been addressed," said Gagiano while standing next to the gigantic aircraft under the blazing sun.