Apr 3, 2014

South Africa's defence minister calls for Rooivalk line to be reopened

South African defence minister has called for Denel to restart production of the Rooivalk attack helicopter, although it is unclear at this stage how likely this might be.
Speaking after a briefing in Cape Town on South African participation in peace-support missions, minister said the small Rooivalk detachment deployed to support the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) had enjoyed a remarkable impact and demonstrated the effectiveness of the aircraft. She added that other countries had made enquiries about the Rooivalk.
The South African Air Force (SAAF) has also deployed Oryx medium transport helicopters to the DRC to support the UN's Force Intervention Brigade.
South Africa planned to build 36 Rooivalks for the SAAF, but that was cut to just 12 when defence funding was slashed after 1990. Despite good reviews from potential customers, no export orders emerged, largely because the SAAF had not taken the helicopter into full service due to funding shortfalls. A possible Turkish order was thwarted by a foreign supplier that refused to supply a critical component.
While the Rooivalk is now operational, it still lacks the 10,000 m-range Mokopa laser-guided missile expressly designed for it by Denel Dynamics because there is no funding to buy the weapon. The Mokopa, meanwhile, is being produced for an export order to arm shipboard helicopters.

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