Final Rooivalk handover cements relationship between Denel, SAAF


Mike Kgobe, CEO of Denel Aviation, says the acceptance of the locally developed combat support helicopter marks the culmination of a 26-year partnership between the SAAF and Denel. “We took this proudly South African aircraft through all its stages – from design to manufacturing, upgrading and retrofitting – to the point where it will soon be deployed.

Denel will continue to be involved with the Rooivalk through ongoing maintenance and repair services, and providing the continued airworthiness engineering support to ensure the fleet of 11 helicopters remains mission-ready.

Kgobe says the Rooivalk project is indicative of the symbiotic relationship between Denel Aviation and the SAAF. “We are always ready to provide technical and ground support to ensure the operational readiness of the Air Force’s fleet.”

This relationship was strengthened last week with an agreement in which Denel Aviation will continue to deliver vital maintenance services to the SAAF, leading to continued airworthiness and the upkeep of air assets.

“This is a win-win situation for both Denel and the SAAF, which results in the retention of high-level critical skills, a focused service delivery and cost-effectiveness for the SAAF,” says Kgobe.

The company recently received a “zero defect report” from the SAAF to confirm that all 11 Rooivalk helicopters have been upgraded to block 1F baseline standards.

Denel Aviation is receiving excellent feedback from the SAAF – and especially from 16 Squadron at Air Force Base Bloemspruit – where the first batch of helicopters has now been flying continuously since April 2011.

Dewald Steyn, the project manager: Rooivalk, at Denel Aviation, says the performance of the aircraft is being closely monitored and evaluated from a design and development perspective. The helicopter has exceeded the expectations and no major maintenance or repair work has thus far been required.

The Rooivalk project started its design phase in 1984 and had its first flight in April 1990. It attracted worldwide attention for its unique design and capabilities, and has been displayed at major international air shows in England, Dubai, Malaysia and Cape Town.

Denel Aviation was responsible for the final modifications to the helicopter to improve its safety and reliability and accuracy of its weapons systems, and to complete all outstanding certification flight testing to enable the application for a full military-type certificate at the Cabinet-agreed deployment baseline.