Denel Rooivalk

Helicopter type : Combat support helicopter
Entered service : July 1999 (fully operational: 1 April 2011)
Company: Denel Aviation
First flight: February 11, 1990; Engineering Development Model: February 17, 1997
Delivered to the SAAF: From 7 May, 1998.
Production: 1990-2007
Numbers: 12 production aircraft built; two prototypes exist in addition.
Crew : 2 men
Roll-out dates:
-Experimental Development Model: January 15, 1990
-Advanced Development Model: 1992
-Engineering Development Model: 17 November, 1996
Dimensions and weight :
-Length : 18.73 m
-Height : 5.19 m
-Main rotor diameter : 15.58 m
-Tail Rotor Diameter : 3.05m
-Weight (empty) : 5910 kg
-Weight (maximum take off) : 8750 kg
Landing Gear :
-Type : Fixed tailwheel type with a single wheel on each unit
-Wheelbase : 11.77m (38ft 7in)
-Wheel Track : 3.00m (9ft 10in)
Power plant and performance:
-Engines : 2 x Turbomeca Makila 1K2 turboshaft engines
-Engine power : Output of 1716 kW per engine, and 1492 kW combined
-Maximum speed : 326 km/h
-Cruising speed : 278 km/h
-Maximum sideways speed: 84 km/h
-Range : 700 km (internal 1469 kg fuel), 1260 km (external fuel tanks)
-Service ceiling : 18,200 feet
-Rate of climb : 13.3 m/s (2,620 ft/799m per min)
-Hover In Ground Effect : 18,200ft (5,547m)
-Hover Out Of Ground Effect : 16,500ft (5,029m)
-Fuel capacity and type : 1469 kg/ Jet A-1

Armament :
-1 × F2 20 mm cannon (740 rounds a minute)
-8 or 16 × Denel Dynamics Mokopa ZT-6 long-range anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) (Range: 8.5-10 KM)
-4 × MBDA Mistral air-to-air missiles (Range: 6 KM)
-38 or 76 × Forges de Zeebrugge (Belgium) 70 mm folding fin aerial rockets (FFAR)

Missions :
-Aircraft escort
-Landing zone/Drop zone protection
-Close air support

Survivability :
The Rooivalk has a crash-resistant structure and is designed for stealth with low radar, visual, infrared and acoustic signatures.

Full glass, stepped tandem cockpits with an environmental control system. The cockpits for the pilot and weapon systems officer (WSO) are equipped with hands-on collective And stick (HOCAS) controls, as well as three LCD displays. The third display is used for threat warning. There is no head-up display, but symbology is displayed on the helmet visor in full colour. The weapon systems officer (WSO) is seated in the front cockpit and the pilot is seated in the cockpit above and behind the WSO. The cockpits, which are fitted with crashworthy seats and are armour-protected.

Avionics :
Fully integrated, dual redundant MIL-STD 1553B-based avionics and weapons system, providing the following management features:
-total mission modes
-target acquisition
-flight control
-health and usage monitoring
-threat detection and control
-flight and fuel
-stores management
-accurate navigation

Electronic warfare (Self-defence suite) :
The Rooivalk’s self-defence suite is the fully integrated helicopter electronic warfare self-protection suite (HEWSPS), incorporating radar warning, laser warning and countermeasures dispensing system. The platform uses the IDAS suite from Saab Avitronics. The system is flight-line programmable and in-flight adaptable to match the threat library with the mission’s area of operation.
The radar warner features low-effective radiated power (ERP) / pulse Doppler radar detection beyond radar detection range, ultra broadband frequency coverage, high pulse density handling and internal instantaneous frequency measurement.
The laser warner provides broadband laser frequency coverage to detect and display rangefinding, designating and missile guidance laser threats.
The countermeasures dispensing system, which is operated in manual, semi-automatic or fully automatic mode, is charged with infrared (IR) heat suppressors on the engine exhausts and with chaff (radar jamming material) and flare (to distract IR homing missiles) dispensers.

Sight system:
-Nose-mounted stabilised sight (Main sight system)
The main Rooivalk sight is called the ‘NightOwl’ system and was developed by Société de Fabrication d’Instruments de Mesure (SFIM), later part of SAGEM. Target acquisition and detection are carried out using the nose-mounted stabilised electro- optical sight system. The sight system is equipped with a TV sensor and a forward looking infrared system (giving both day and night capabilities), autotracker, as well as a laser rangefinder and laser designator.

– Dual Helmet-mounted sight displays (HMSD)
A TopOwl helmet-mounted sight display (HMSD) provides the pilot and WSO with a head-up display of information for nap-of-the-earth flight (NOE), and it allows the pilot, if required, to also fire the cannon and rockets. TopOwl incorporates an integrated measurement system for directing an articulated weapon such as the cannon, or air-to-air missile seeker heads. By the use of electromagnetic tracking the pilot can just point his/her head at the target to direct the weapons toward the target. It has an integrated Gen IV image intensifier and FLIR (forward looking infrared) capability and provides transition from day to night use at the push of a button. The TopOwl HMSD was developed by Sextant Avionique (became part of Thales at a later stage).The PNVS (pilot night vision system) was developed by Cumulus (became part of Denel Optronics, and later Cassidian Optronics). Each helmet has two monocular display modules with integrated CRTs that can project both heads-up display symbology and video images directly into the crew member’s line of sight, so the crew retain access to their HMDS symbology whether using NVGs or not and the pilot in control similarly gets real-time imagery from the PNVS allowing him or her to fly low-level Nap-of-the-Earth (NOE) missions in pitch darkness.

Navigation and Automatic Flight Control :
The navigation computer is a hybridised system, using both Global Positioning System and Inertial Navigation System inputs.The Rooivalk is equipped with an advanced navigation suite including Doppler radar velocity sensor, Thales Avionics eight-channel global positioning system, heading sensor unit and an air data unit. It also includes radio navigation equipment.
The Automated Flight Control System (AFCS) provides basic stability augmentation. It can also operate in what are termed higher modes, allowing the helicopter to hover automatic- ally, keep flying at certain altitudes automatically, and, in navigation mode, to automatically follow a prescribed route as well as orientating the aircraft to a target as directed by the main sighting system.

Communications :
Reutech Radar Systems ACR500 VHF/UHF radio transceivers and AC500 controller.
The communications suite consists of two VHF/UHF transceivers with FM, AM and digital speech processing, one HF radio with frequency hopping and secure voice and data channels, and an IFF transponder.

Photo: 🇿🇦South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Rooivalk
Info by Ryno Joubert

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