The South African Air Force (SAAF) in December signed five contracts worth R181.9 million with Denel Aviation to bring the CSH2A Rooivalk attack helicopter to operational status.
Denel’s Group Executive Technical Major General Otto Schür (Retd) in September said the helicopter would be released to operational service “within the next eight months” when the first five fully-certified locally-designed and manufactured combat support helicopters will be handed over to the SAAF. He said the Block 1F Rooivalk will be handed over for operational duties to the SAAF’s 16 Squadron in Bloemfontein by no later than the end of March. “The remaining six aircraft will be completed and ready for deployment soon after,” said Schür.
The contracts, totalling R181 921 690, awarded last month includes R86 312 502 for operational product supply support “for 11 Rooivalk aircraft” as well as R74 281 141 for five year’s maintenance for the Nightowl main sight system, R5 195 416 to establish a limited D-Level capability for the helicopter’s health utilisation and monitoring system, R10 598 500 for the repair of line replaceable units required for the retrofit line for the Rooivalk combat support helicopter and
R5 534 131,00 to establish “a manufacturing capability for the crew escape system acrylic side windows with the associated removal and installation log pack for the Rooivalk combat support helicopter.”
Schür’s announcement follows similar news from Brigadier General Norman Minne, the Director Air Force Acquisition in the Defence Materiel Division of the Defence Secretariat in July. The air force acquisitions director said the Rooivalk fleet was grounded in November 2008 “due to some specific issues regarding the engineering support of the aircraft”. The aircraft was notably absent from the massive air defence effort to safeguard the June-July soccer World Cup and did not feature in this February’s SA Army airborne capability Exercise Young Eagle, as is usually the case. It did, however, return to the public skies at last year’s Africa Aerospace and Defence show.
The original Rooivalk was designed as “an attack helicopter and tank killer” to meet the needs of SA Defence Force as it existed in the 1980s, explains Schür. The changing role of the SANDF, which is now primarily engaged in mandated peacekeeping missions meant that aircraft systems had to be adapted to meet the new requirements effectively. “Rooivalk is now a modern, sophisticated, combat support helicopter, ready to be used by the SANDF in any of its potential deployed operations,” he says.
Rooivalk Chief Design Engineer Renier van Rooyen late last year said it takes 130 modifications to turn the current fleet into a “Block 1F”-standard aircraft and a further nine modifications to the aircraft’s ground support equipment. A major feature of the work is upgrading the sighting system on the Rooivalk for improved reliability. Other modifications include a new communications management system, the addition of radio navigation equipment, cannon and rocket system accuracy improvements, as well as upgrades to other mission systems.
Denel in a media release noted Van Rooyen was part of the original team that started with the design of the helicopter in 1984. The Rooivalk is the first – and to date only helicopter – mostly designed and built in South Africa, albeit with covert assistance from Aerospatiale, the fore-runner of Eurocopter, and Turbomeca, the helicopter turbine engine manufacturer. By about 2006 some R8.1 billion had been spent on the programme, Project Impose.
The Block 1F platform has since mid-October been subjected to an accelerated flying programme of some 200 hours at the SAAF Test Flight & Development Centre at AFB Overberg in the southern Cape. In preparation for the planned release of the aircraft to 16 Squadron, Denel Aviation is also supporting the SAAF with the training of flight and ground crews to regain the required competencies to operate and maintain Rooivalk.
Schür says an important part of the last phase of Project Impose is that Denel Aviation will be fully responsible for the establishment of the deeper-level support capabilities that would be required to sustain flying operations for at least five years. It must also secure an adequate pool of spares on instruction of the DoD/Armscor and take responsibility for all maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) work done on the Rooivalk fleet through a formal support contract that must be secured before end-March 2011. “As design authority and original equipment manufacturer we will ensure that the Rooivalk remains fully operational throughout its assigned life,” says Schür.
According to the Armscor Bulletin System the total spent on the Rooivalk system since early 2007 is R228 911 036.99.
From the Armscor Bulletin System:
To establish a limited D-Level capability for the health utilisation and monitoring system for the Rooivalk combat support helicopter
EHEL/2008/522 22 Dec 2010 R5 195 416,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aviation
Repair of line replaceable units required for the retrofit line for the Rooivalk combat support helicopter
EHEL/2010/235 22 Dec 2010 R10 598 500,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aviation
Five year maintenance cycle for the nightowl main sight system for the Rooivalk combat support helicopter
EHEL/2008/525 22 Dec 2010 R74 281 141,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aviation
Establishment of a manufacturing capability for the crew escape system acrylic side windows with the associated removal and installation log pack for the Rooivalk combat support helicopter
EHEL/2010/236 22 Dec 2010 R5 534 131,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aviation
Operational product supply support for 11 Rooivalk aircraft
EHEL/2010/297 10 Dec 2010 R86 312 502,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aviation
Crew escape system integration to Rooivalk combat support helicopter windows (Development and qualification of the packaging for explosive/window assemblies
EDWU/2009/267 13 May 2010 R1 878 054,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aviation
SAL29 Actuator D-Level establishment for the Rooivalk combat support helicopter
EHEL/2008/478 3 Dec 2009 R6 419 954,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aviation
Upgrade of the turret test bench for the 20 mm cannon capability for the Rooivalk combat support helicopter
EHEL/2008/521 3 Dec 2009 R2 495 059,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aviation
Rooivalk combat support helicopter-integration of a counter measure dispensing system
HEL/S2009/0530 2 Jul 2009 R335 790,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aviation
Rooivalk combat support helicopter – deployment hangars and containers for the Rooivalk
HEL/S2007/0515 20 Sep 2007 R9 917 430,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aerospace
Rooivalk combat support helicopter – deployment harmonisation kit
HEL/S2007/0520 20 Sep 2007 R7 533 170,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aerospace
Rooivalk combat support helicopter D-Level establishment main sight system.
HEL/S2006/0507 28 Mar 2007 R16 990 600,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aerospace
Rooikat combat support helicopter vital parts renumbering
HEL/S2006/0503 1 Feb 2007 R565 710,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aerospace
Rooivalk combat support helicopter deployment capability equipment
HEL/S2006/0505 1 Feb 2007 R853 579,99 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aerospace