Fact file: Denel M1 Oryx


The Denel M1 Oryx is the standard – and only – medium utility helicopter of the South African Air Force.




Denel M1 Oryx


Medium utility helicopter.

Country of origin:

France, assembled in South Africa.

First flight:

AS332 Super Puma (later AS532 Cougar): September 13, 1978; SA Oryx: September 18, 1987.

Delivered to the SAAF:

From May 1989.

Associated project name(s):

Drummer (2006/7 mid-life upgrade).


51 assembled, 39 survive.



Pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer.

Major dimensions & weights

  • Wingspan (rotor diameter):

  • Number of rotor blades:

  • Main rotor disc area:

  • Wingspan (tail rotor diameter):

  • Number of tail rotor blades:

  • Length (fuselage):

  • Length (rotor running):

  • Wheelbase:

  • Height (tail rotor running):

  • Height (to main rotor hub):

  • Width (wheelbase):

  • Width (fuselage, including sponsons:

  • Basic empty weight:

  • Max take-off weight:

  • Max landing weight:

  • Max internal fuel:

  • Max external fuel:

  • Max cargo weight (internal):

  • Max weight, cargo hook:

  • Max weight, rescue hoist:

  • Passengers:

  • 15.6m (51.18ft).

  • 4.

  • 191.13m2 (2057.43ft2).

  • 3.051m 10ft).

  • 5.

  • 15.45m (53.44ft).

  • 18.74m 61.35ft).

  • 4.055m.

  • 5.14m.

  • 4.63m (15.09ft).

  • 3m (9.84ft).

  • 2m (6.56ft). .

  • 4.460mt (9832lbs).

  • 9mt (19,841lbs) with an internal load or 9.35mt with a slung load.

  • 1.469mt.

  • 3mt. .

  • 4.5mt.

  • 272kg.

  • 16 on canvas seats, 20 on floor, six stretchers with four medics.


  • Operating conditions:

  • Take-off to clear 15m:

  • Landing from 15m:

  • Rate of climb:

  • Service ceiling:

  • Max operating speed:

  • Fast cruise speed:

  • Fuel consumption, fast cruise speed:

  • Max range at econ cruise speed:

  • Ferry range:

  • Stall speed:

  • G-loads:

  • Wing loading:

  • Thrust:

  • Bypass ratio:

  • Thrust/weight ratio:


  • -35degC to +50degC.

  • VTOL

  • VTOL

  • 915m/min (3000ft/min).

  • 23,500ft (6mt), 19,000ft (7mt), 15,000ft (8mt).

  • 165kts (6mt), 164kts (7mt) & 161kts (8mt).

  • 152kts (6mt), 151kts (7mt), 149kts (8mt).

  • 500kg/h (6mt), 505kg/h (7mt), 510kg/h

  • 303nm (6mt), 297nm (7mt), 288nm (8mt), with standard tanks, without reserve; 448nm (6mt), 441nm (7mt), 427nm (8mt).

  • 2000km with four auxiliary ferry tanks.

Engine Specifications

  • Make:

  • Model:

  • Type:

  • Number:

  • Compression ratio:

  • Engine length:

  • Engine height:

  • Engine width:

  • Dry weight:

  • Power turbine rotor speed:

  • Engine rating:

  • Twin engine take-off rating:

  • Single engine super contingency rating:

  • Transmission rating (max continuous):

  • Transmission rating (max take off):

  • Turbomeca.

  • Makila 1K2.

  • Turboshaft.

  • 2.

  • 2.103m.

  • 0.68m.

  • 0.528m.

  • 0.243mt.

  • 1400kW each.

  • 1492kW.

  • 1716kW.

  • 1817kW.

  • 2243kW. .

Hard points:

Normally none.


None normally fitted, but the type can carry pintle-mounted 12.7mm Browning heavy machine guns in the door or machine guns, cannon, unguided rockets or various missiles in pods under stub wings.

Other attachments:

Ferry tanks can be carried internally. For search-and rescue, a hoist, loudhailer, searchlight and flotation gear is fitted. A tactical EW kit can be fitted.


Keith Campbell of Engineering News1 describes the Oryx as a “hybrid of the Puma and the 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. “Being simpler and cheaper than the Rooivalk, the Oryx programme was completed much more rapidly, the helicopter being unveiled in 1991, and has been the SAAF’s transport helicopter ever since.”

The Oryx was assembled from kits smuggled into South Africa via Romania and Portugal and in violation of a UN arms embargo. The pilot seats are armoured and proof against 7.62mm fire.

1 Keith Campbell, What went wrong with the Rooivalk?, Engineering News, June 8, 2007, http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/print_version.php?a_id=110041, accessed November 4, 2008.