Denel Rooivalk Attack Helicopter
The Denel Rooivalk (previously designated AH-2 and 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 Rooivalks, designated the Rooivalk Mk 1 in SAAF service, the first of was officially handed over in April 2011. The helicopters are flown by 16 Squadron, which is based at AFB Bloemspruit near Bloemfontein. 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 Rooivalk. During the Rooivalk'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.
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