South Africa’s State-owned defence industrial group Denel reported on Tuesday that it is in advanced discussions with the Department of Defence and the South African Air Force (SAAF) for upgrading the latter’s Denel Aviation Rooivalk attack helicopters. The upgrade would increase the operational effectiveness of the machine.
The group is also confident that the upgrade will, in turn, lead to the development of a Mark (Mk) 2 version of the Rooivalk, which would also be available for export. The current operation version of the Rooivalk is the Mk 1F, which is categorised as the baseline and was released for front-line service in 2011.
Denel, as the original equipment manufacturer, continues to have responsibility for the airworthiness and operation effectiveness of the helicopter. Eleven Rooivalk Mk 1F machines are operated by the SAAF’s 16 Squadron.
The Rooivalk is one of two leading Denel group systems being demonstrated over three days this week to foreign and local observers, including representatives of armed forces, defence companies, media and defence analysts. The demonstrations are taking place at the Denel Overberg Test Range in the Western Cape. The other system being demonstrated is the Denel Dynamics Mokopa missile.
“The Rooivalk has been praised by both international and local defence analysts since its first deployment in support of the South African forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2013,” highlighted Denel Group acting CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe. “Since then it has proven its value in combat situations on numerous occasions, providing our forces with unrivalled firepower, mobility and protection from the air.”
The Mokopa missile was originally developed as an anti-tank weapon but, thanks to the development of a high explosive fragmentation warhead, it can now engage a greater number of target types. The Mokopa was successfully launched from a Rooivalk in trials in 2011. These established the accuracy and effectiveness of the weapon, which has a range of 10 km.
The demonstrations at the Overberg Test Range will highlight the effectiveness of the Rooivalk/Mokopa combination. “It will demonstrate the value that the Rooivalk development has brought to South Africa’s defence and manufacturing industries – and emphasise our capabilities to improve even further on the proudly local product,” affirmed Ntshepe.