The Denel AH-2 Rooivalk (previously designated CSH-2) is an attack helicopter manufactured by Denel of South Africa. Rooivalk is Afrikaans for "Red Kestrel".
The South African Air Force (SAAF) ordered 12 Rooivalk AH-2As, the first of which entered service in July 1999. The helicopters are flown by 16 Squadron, which is based at AFB Bloemspruit near Bloemfontein.
Role Attack helicopter
First flight 1990
Status Active service
Primary user South African Air Force
Number built 12
Unit cost $40 million (2007, estimated)
Developed from Aérospatiale Puma
The Rooivalk project began in early 1984 under the auspices of the Atlas Aircraft Corporation, a predecessor of Denel Aviation. Faced with the increasingly conventional nature of the South African Border War, the South African Defence Force recognised the need for a dedicated attack helicopter and accordingly set along the process of developing a suitable aircraft.
The Atlas XH-1 Alpha was the first prototype to emerge from the program. It was developed from an Aérospatiale Alouette III airframe, retaining that helicopter's engine and dynamic components, but replacing the original cockpit with a stepped tandem one, adding a 20 mm cannon on the nose and converting the undercarriage to tail-dragger configuration. The XH-1 first flew on 3 February 1985. The results were ultimately good enough to convince Atlas and the SAAF that the concept was feasible, opening the door for the development of the AH-2 Rooivalk.
During the AH-2's development it was decided to base the aircraft on the dynamic components of the Aérospatiale Super Puma, a larger and more powerful helicopter. These components were already used on the Atlas Oryx, a local upgrade and modification of the Aérospatiale Puma.
A Rooivalk at AFB Ysterplaat in Cape Town, South AfricaDue to the SAAF's decades of helicopter experience in the harsh African environment, the Rooivalk has been designed to operate for prolonged periods without sophisticated support. All that is needed to keep the Rooivalk flying is a medium transport helicopter equipped with a basic spares supply plus four groundcrew.
The AH-2 carries a range of weapons depending on the mission profile. It is generally fitted with a nose-mounted 20 mm cannon and can also carry air-to-air missiles, anti-armour missiles and unguided rockets. The AH-2 has a fire control system for target acquisition and tracking as well as an advanced navigation system using Doppler radar and GPS. Also incorporated is an electronic countermeasures suite coupled with chaff and flare dispensers.
Notable features include a tandem cockpit, starboard tail rotor with a port tailplane, a fixed wheeled undercarriage as well as wire cutters above and below the cockpit and on the undercarriage.
The following types of missions are foreseen for the AH-2 Rooivalk: Reconnaissance, heliborne escort, close air support, deep penetration and anti-armour.