Power of the Rooivalk on show during three-day demonstration


The formidable combat capability of the Rooivalk attack helicopter, one of the most advanced weapon systems produced by the South African defence industry, will be on display during the demonstration to a wider audience this week.

Members of various defence forces, defence analysts, the defence industry and the media are attending a demonstration of the Denel Rooivalk, equipped with the Denel Mokopa missile, ballistic rockets and cannons at the Denel Overberg Test Range in the Southern Cape.

“The Rooivalk has been praised by both international and local defence analysts since its first deployment in support of South African forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2013,” says Zwelakhe Ntshepe, acting chief executive of Denel.

“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,” he says. “The introduction of the Rooivalk has been a game-changer in operations against rebel forces in the region, and the helicopters are making invaluable contributions to the success of the United Nations Stabilisation Mission.”

The precision-guided Mokopa missile will add to the strike capabilities of the Rooivalk and will enable it to play a more decisive role in combat operations. The air-to-ground missile, designed and developed by Denel Dynamics as an anti-tank weapon, can reach and destroy targets at distances of up to 10km.

The Mokopa missile, successfully fired from the Rooivalk in 2011, demonstrated the effectiveness of the missile both in accuracy and terminal effect. The missile has since evolved with the development of a HE Fragmentation Warhead, increasing the capability of the missile to a wider range of targets.

Ntshepe says the Rooivalk fleet available to the SANDF has performed exceptionally well in “hot-and-high” environments and in difficult operational circumstances. “Its high cruise speed, exceptional climb rate and power-to-weight ratio offers confidence to our troops and create doubts among opposing rebel forces.”

The world-class capabilities of systems such as the Rooivalk and the Mokopa have also strengthened the reputation of Denel, which is now ranked among the world’s top 100 defence technology companies.

Ntshepe says the current version of the Rooivalk, the Mk1F baseline, was released for operational deployment in 2011 by Denel to the SANDF, and Denel remains responsible for continued airworthiness and operational effectiveness of the aircraft as the original equipment manufacturer. Discussions are at an advanced stage with the Department of Defence and the SAAF regarding an upgrade to the current baseline, which will also enhance operational effectiveness of the aircraft. Denel remains confident that this will logically lead to a next-generation Rooivalk (or the Mk2 baseline) that will also be available for the export market.

The three-day demonstration at the Denel Overberg Test Range will showcase the effectiveness of the Rooivalk when deployed in tandem with a world-class missile system. “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,” says Ntshepe.