Milestone as Air Force gets Rooivalk

2011-04-01 13:11

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.

  • WiseOwl2 - 2011-04-01 13:35

    Well done Guys all we now need is a competent goverment and people to make use of them.

  • The Baas - 2011-04-01 13:36

    and why not buy the Apache from the US.............what has the cost of 25 years of R&D been ? We need not always re-invent the wheel.

      Rob - 2011-04-01 14:04

      I agree. The Apache is a better helicopter. Read the book Hellfire.

      Wes - 2011-04-01 14:08

      The technical spin offs can be sold by us. Thats why you do any research.

      F15Eagle - 2011-04-01 14:16

      Rooivalk is actually superior to the Apache - a real thumbs up for SA!

      afro broda - 2011-04-01 14:24

      yeah right. but you cant really trust the US,they might have equiped it with some system to sabotage it. anyway,at least we contributed to local economy

      Samuisun - 2011-04-01 14:27

      Because the Rooivalk is better than the Apache - but what we do need is properly qualified and competent pilots.....

      Rajty - 2011-04-01 14:32

      I think that the rooivalk was built around the same time as the apache, but because it could not be sold abroad the project was stagnated.....

      unrealchris - 2011-04-01 14:41

      Cause we had it first, the sight system on the apache is bascially a copy of ours, why settle for second best?

      TooBad - 2011-04-01 14:42

      R&D on any major project, ultimately helps improve the country's economy! Besides what if you could say that you invented the 'wheel'...this is how the first world has progressed, and why the third world lags behind!

      Schumi - 2011-04-01 14:50

      This article implies as if the Rooivalk has only just become available, yet ive been watching it fly at air shows for 10 years already. Futhermore at those same shows, denel had on display Eastern Europe MI-Hind helicopters that Denel had been retrofitting with the same Technology that's gone into the rooivalk 10 years later. This to me is an attempt to ramp up PR, and not a significant milestone of any sort as they are making it out to be.

      Woseck - 2011-04-02 02:13

      What you fools don't know is: 60% of all the technology in the Apache came from South Africa!!! You can find all the info on Jane's website. Wake up before you comment !

  • Jakes147 - 2011-04-01 13:38


  • modefan - 2011-04-01 13:49

    NOU EERS...

  • GT - 2011-04-01 14:07

    Now they need to find the petrol to fly the things. Lets hope they don't put in diesel. (should have been awake enough to sell these ahead of the apache)

  • Chadri - 2011-04-01 14:08

    Now to give the Rooivalk some mission time, send it to Libya for some much needed Peace keeping and Anti tank operations

  • Rinus Eckard - 2011-04-01 14:12

    And the maintenance contract? Or will it be docked like the Corvettes we bought as part of the arms deal and is now gathering rust and dust? Great to have but a pain to pay.

  • Jou - 2011-04-01 14:17

    lucky appartheid was so peaceful. With Denels firepower it could have been nasty. Just proves what we are led not to believe!

  • buzz - 2011-04-01 14:18

    Can anyone fly the frikkin' thing? And, is there fuel for it?

  • Slypsteen - 2011-04-01 14:23

    So the SANDF ends up with them, nobody else wanted them, too expensive & to complicated to maintain, will require frequent trips with the Denel "mothership" great so now we can use attack helicopters to do what? quell service delivery riots? Aérospatiale must be lauging their heads off. This project cost the SA taxpayer billions !!

  • Sinjoku - 2011-04-01 14:43

    @The Baas The Apache is old tech. The Cobra is the new bad boy in terms of attack helicopters. And will cost more than the new Rooivalk. Plus maintenance is the biggest cost factor on the Apache. Plus I know some people that say the Apache is actually a copy of the Rooivalk. Plenty tech inside it is apparently stolen from SA. They are pretty similar in design.

      Andrew - 2011-04-02 13:05

      The Rooivalk was designed 2 years before the Apache. The US had more money to put into R&D then, which meant that they could produce a "completed" product first. There-after, the US provided "kick-backs" and other incentives to prospective buyers to choose their product over that of SA. Yes, the Apache moved on from then, but the Rooivalk was the original. If Defense spending was not cut, we would have had more in our possession (yes we do have ones bought earlier). The specs and tech inside would have been improved and the EW systems upgraded, but no real work would have been done on the exterior of this updated Rooivalk, apart from the cannon that is. The latter was also an SA invention with the cannon aiming according to the pilot's view.

  • Michael Caine - 2011-04-01 14:46

    Awesome waste of money on R & D that has been made redundant by the AH-64 Apache which costs half the amount per unit when compared to the Rooivalk and has a far more extensive support network. As much as I respect the capabilities of this aircraft and the fact that it is a local product, it still comes about 15 years too late and at a ridiculous cost that will(in all likelihood) never be recovered.

  • Sam - 2011-04-01 16:49

    If you don't wanna see SA succeed please leave. Because we are going to depress you even more. There is more where that comes from

      Khoisan X - 2011-04-01 22:26

      We want SA to succeed but let's not delude ourselves. The Rooivalk was great in 1995 but the world has moved on. Same applies to the PBMR...any R&D must move to prototype and production quicker than the competitors. That simple!

  • Bill Xhosa - 2011-04-02 00:37

    April Fools ha ha. This story is so vague. One armed helicopter has been handed over to SANDF. How about having it actually do a few combat missions before thinking about selling it. No one will buy it until it has been shown to be effective and that it will be supported with parts and service in the future. Sounds like a pre-election announcement to make the government look efficient. Wait for it to get officially cancelled after the election like PBMR.

  • Bill Xhosa - 2011-04-02 01:18

    Denel is a government owned business and yet has a workforce comprised of 60% white and 40% non-white. In the upper echelons of the company the percentages are about 90% white and 10% non-white. reference pg 93 of Denel Annual report 2010. Doesn't this violate BEE requirements? Someone tell Malema and Manyi. Why hasn't the ANC transformed the defense industry like it has Eskom, Transnet, Saps, etc.? Who needs a functioning SANDF all your neighbours are your friends.

      RGL - 2011-07-06 16:22

      Maybe SA doen't have technically qualified blacks. Duh ! This is a highly sophisticated industry. It doesn't employ many straight out of OBE school-leavers.

  • Johan - 2011-04-05 09:59

    As an engineer who started in 1988 and for 7 years performed various static and fatigue tests on the XDM Rooivalk structure and subsystems, I am very proud of what we as South Africans achieved. The original spec for the attack helicopter was 2ton lighter, similar to the Apache, but internal politics between the Army and Air Force about the role and deployment of the Rooivalk change it to a 8ton helicopter. History showed that the Rooivalk outperformed other attack helicopters at live weapon demonstrations in countries that wanted to purchase similar equipment. Unfortunately due to financial blackmail from the USA, we were unable to seal a contract with other countries (the same applied to the HOUWTEQ satellite programme in the early 1990's). The vehicle itself was never in question – it was mostly the armament and to be precise the choice of missiles by the client that terminated previous sales negotiations.

  • RGL - 2011-07-06 16:19

    An attack helicopter will strengthen peace-keeping missions? Really? Someone has to explain that to me ... haha

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