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Denel delivers Rooivalk attack helicopters to S African Air Force

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The Rooivalk attack helicopter.

KEMPTON PARK (BNS): The South African Air Force (SAAF) has received the new Rooivalk combat support helicopters from the country’s defence firm Denel.

Five of the indigenously-built attack helicopters were handed over to the Chief of SA Air Force, Lt Gen Carlo Gagiano, at Denel’s facility in Kempton Park on April 1.

The handover was the “culmination of 25 years of research, development and high-technology manufacturing,” said Chief Executive Officer of Denel, Talib Sadik.

The modernised helicopter, designated Rooivalk Mark 1, had undergone rigorous flight testing and evaluation programme since November 2010.

The evaluation included day and night flight operations, target identification and tracking, cannon firing, and evaluation of the secure communications modes and self-protection features, Denel said.

The trial also included the test firing of an upgraded Mokopa anti-armour guided missile from the helicopter's platform. Live test firing of the missile from Rooivalk was conducted in January this year.

During the retrofit programme, all 11 SAAF production Rooivalk aircraft will be brought up to the Mark 1 standard, Denel said. The programme includes the significant remanufacturing of certain gearbox mounting components that were found to be out of specification on a number of aircraft, it said.

The SAAF will deploy the first five of its 11 helicopters at its 16 Squadron, based in Bloemfontein. The remaining six will be completed and ready for deployment later this year, the aircraft manufacturer said.

South Africa began production of the AH-2 Rooivalk in 1984 and the helicopter took to the skies for the first time in 1990.

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Helicopter  SAAF  
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