SAAF invests in Oryx


The South African Air Force has awarded Denel Aviation a R390.7 million contract for product support for its fleet of Denel M1 Oryx medium utility helicopters, now thought to number 42. The type has been in service since May 1989. The deal takes known expenditure on the type to R1.3 billion (R1 298 458 684.74) since 2007.

The Oryx was assembled from kits smuggled into South Africa via Romania and Portugal in violation of a then-mandatory UN arms embargo. Keith Campbell in June 2007 described the helicopter in the Engineering News as a “hybrid of the [Aerospatiale, later Eurocopter, AS330] Puma and the [AS332] Super Puma” (later the Cougar). “The Oryx has a fuselage that is longer than that of the Puma but shorter than that of the Super Puma, and was fitted with the powerplant, dynamics systems, and tail boom of the Super Puma.”
“The result was and is a helicopter with a greater payload and range capability than the Puma and a greater power-to-weight ratio than the Super Puma/Cougar. In consequence, the Oryx is an ideal transport helicopter for the hot temperatures and high altitudes frequently found in Southern Africa.”

Campbell says the Oryx was developed in parallel with the Rooivalk attack helicopter, the development of which began in March 1984 as Project Impose. The Oryx being “simpler and cheaper than the Rooivalk, the Oryx programme was completed much more rapidly.” First flight was on September 18, 1987 and deliveries commence in May 1989. Fifty-one were eventually delivered. A mid-life upgrade, Project Drummer, commenced in 2006.

Product support for the Oryx helicopter fleet – extension of ELGS/2002/594

LGS/2010/4511 25 Nov 2010 R390 682 957,61 Denel Aviation

LGS/S2010/4507 22 Sep 2010 R9 664 536,39 Denel Aviation

LGS/S2008/3960 21 May 2009 R278 951 003,59 Denel Aviation

LGS/S2008/3929 8 Apr 2009 R9 971 516,43 Denel Aviation

Oryx life extension; upgrade and overhaul of engines – extension of EVLI/2005/202

VLI/S2008/1744 29 Jan 2009 R53 698 708,38 Turbomeca Africa

VLI/S2007/1689 18 Oct 2007 R70 723 497,00 Turbomeca Africa

Avionics upgrade and obsolescence mitigation for the Oryx Medium transport helicopter – extension of ETEL/2005/540

VLI/S2007/1690 15 Nov 2007 R460 377 954,48 Denel Aviation

Oryx life extension: Dynamic components, overhaul and airframe modifications – extension of EVLI/2005/499

VLI/S2007/1688 24 Oct 2007 R15 824 213,00 Denel Aviation

Oryx life extension: Dynamic component overhaul and airframe upgrade – extension of EVLI/2005/244

VLI/S2006/1660 12 Apr 2007 R8 564 297,86 Denel Aviation