Tag Archives: as32

The Work Horse of the SAAF-The Oryx Helicopter

The Oryx Medium transport helicopter, is the upgraded version of the puma helicopter which served the South African Airforce for many years and saw the helicopter take part in the Angola border war. The SAAF were the largest operator of the then Aerospatiale SA330 Puma. The Oryx Helicopter named after the Oryx antelope or Gemsbok in Afrikaans. The first flight of the Oryx helicopter was in
1986 .

A 330L Puma, no. 177, was converted to Oryx configuration and used as a prototype and as the results exceeded all expectations the Oryx programme was launched. The sanctions era encouraged the local aviation industry to become self-sufficient in producing helicopter components and, with the knowledge to assemble pre-manufactured helicopters, led to the technical skill for producing complete Puma helicopters, should the need arise. This included complete airframes and dynamic components such as gearboxes, rotor blades and turbines and hot section parts. The engine intakes are fitted with locally produced dust filters and ensure higher efficiency and reliability.

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SAAF Museum Puma
17 Squadron Oryx-a big difference compare to the SA 330 Puma
Two Oryx Helicopters with Bambi Buckets

The Oryx is an upgraded and remanufactured version of the SA 330 Puma equivalent to the Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma now known as Airbus Helicopters, and offers a performance improvement over the original, in addition to cutting the operating costs by 25 to 30%. First examples were fitted with the latest dust filters as were then in use on the SAAF Puma. These units had a moveable auxiliary air intake on the front. A newly designed dust filter was later fitted without the auxiliary air intake. Should one of the engines fail, the remaining powerplant has sufficient power for the Oryx to complete its mission. If an engine fails in flight, the management system automatically advances the power setting on the remaining engine. This ensures the Oryx sustains flight with very little crew input, during such an emergency.

The basic airframe is still that of the original Puma, but the structure was modernized by extensive use of locally produced carbon-composite materials. These materials result in an airframe that is lighter and more rugged, which increases the Oryx’s endurance and maneuverability. The obvious external difference is the new modified tailboom which is slightly longer (50 cm), than the Puma.


The Oryx is a multi-role helicopter. Its main uses in the SAAF are: medium to heavy transport and communications flights, task force rapid deployment operations, fire fighting, and search & rescue missions. It can carry up to 20 fully equipped troops, or 6 wounded on stretchers with 4 attendants, or 3,000 kg freight carried in the cabin, or 4,500 kg freight on an external sling. Tasks for the South African Navy include transport, replenishment at sea, force multiplication, reconnaissance, search & rescue, etc.

Oryx Helicopters
Oryx helicopters at De Brug weapons range February 2018

Most Oryx are equipped with a 50m hydraulic hoist, rated for up to 2 personnel, for use in rescue operations. Additionally a large metal A-frame structure can be fitted in the cargo bay which allows up to 4 personnel to rappel or abseil from the aircraft simultaneously. Oryx operating from coastal squadrons are fitted with emergency flotation gear on the sponsons and nose.

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Oryx during hoisting exercise
Oryx with flotation gear on

The Oryx offers a number of advantages and this was further developed from an early stage in the program. With the Denel Rooivalk of 16 Squadron now in service, this combat helicopter will escort the Oryx in a high threat environment. However, as an interim measure an Oryx with door mounted machine guns did appear. Oryx helicopters are constantly refined and updated. A full glass cockpit is planned for a future update. The latest addition is the fitting of flare dispensers and the update of the Threat Warning Receivers.

Oryx with flare release
Oryx Cockpit view
Photo Credit Marriane Eksteen

There is an electronic warfare (stand-off communications jamming/radar jamming) version of the Oryx that is equipped with the Grinaker Systems Technologies (GST) GSY 1501 jamming system, among others. The first Oryx variant with a large log periodic antenna on the starboard side was regarded as quite an effective EW platform. This platform is capable of disrupting key communications during various stages of modern, air-, land-, and sea battles. In addition it is used as an effective training aid to the SANDF, to test their function as an effective fighting force, despite any EW methods employed against the SA Forces. A further advantage is, EW equipment in use by the SA Forces can be effectively evaluated and calibrated under simulated battlefield scenarios. One variant has its main cabin doors replaced by dome shaped antennas.

Oryx Helicopters have flown many rescue missions over the past couple of years including The 2000 Mozambique flood which was a natural disaster that occurred in February and March 2000.Other rescue missions include offshore tanker vessels to mountain rescues in the Drakensberg.

Oryx at the Rand Easter Show 2018

Operational Flying of the Oryx in the DRC

During the Burundi conflict the SAAFs Oryx’s and Alouette III Helicopters were deployed on peace keeping missions. As times have changed the SAAF are now in the DRC on peace keeping missions!

The Oryx has come under small arms fire since it has been deployed to the DRC. All incidents have been minor and helicopter crews have managed to get the aircraft back to base.

Since the end of October 2013, the South African Air Force has deployed three Rooivalk combat helicopters to the DRC, and these have also been shot at by rebel groups in the restive country. However, the aircraft have not sustained serious damage.

“The Oryx and Rooivalk also supply armed air escorts, fire support, search and rescue and extraction operations. The unit is on standby 24/7 and boasts a reaction time of 45 minutes.”

General characteristics

  • Crew: Three
  • Capacity: 20 fully equipped troops
  • Length: 15.45 m (50 ft 8 in)
  • Height: 5.14 m (16 ft 10 in)
  • Empty weight: 3,600 kg (7,937 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 8,000 kg (17,637 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Turbomeca Makila IA1 turboshaft engines, 1,400 kW (1,900 hp) each
  • Main rotor diameter: 15.6 m (51 ft 2 in)
  • Main rotor area: 191 m2 (2,060 sq ft)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 306 km/h (190 mph; 165 kn)
  • Combat range: 303 km (188 mi; 164 nmi)
  • Ferry range: 2,000 km (1,243 mi; 1,080 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 7,162 m (23,497 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 15.25 m/s (3,002 ft./min)
Oryx Helicopter
Oryx during night flying sorties

Armament

  • Guns: 2 × door-mounted 7.62 mm machine guns (optional; either the FNMAG or Denel SS-77

The Oryx AS32 operates with the following Squadrons in the South African Airforce:

87 Helicopter Flying School-AFB Bloemspruit

22 Squadron-AFB Ysterplaat

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Credit: Ashley Mills
Credit: Ashley Mills
Credit: Ashley Mills

17 Squadron-AFB Swartkop

Credit: Ashley Mills

15 Squadron-AFB Durban

19 Squadron-AFB Hoedspruit

Test Flight and Development Centre-AFB Overberg

Oryx 1200 of TFDC in 2012-Image by Dean Wingrin

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Kishugu Lowveld Airshow 2018

Kishugu Lowveld Airshow 2018

Friday, Midday our journey to Nelspruit in the Lowveld started by road from Gauteng, the Team for the Weekend was, Flippie & Lettie van Emmenis and Jarryd Sinovich. We got to Nelspruit Airport at about 16:00 and did our accreditation with the friendly Monica Fourie, once done we went to checking Sheba Rock Guest House our accommodation for the weekend. This was followed by a 780m quick trip to the Mini Boss music festival, this festival started with Brian Emmenis and Willem Botha arriving and a Robinson R44 shortly followed by the Flying Lions doing a sunset display before the music started. During the evening a hot air balloon did some night glows adding to the amazing atmosphere. The artists for the evening was and Willem Botha, Touch of Class and Bok van Blerk

Touch of Class

Bok van Blerk


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Airshow

After a fun filled night before at Minibos,we were up early and we  had the Hot Air balloons up and about filling the early morning skies above Nelspruit.Nelspruit Airport was originally the only airfield serving the region. For commercial flights, it has mainly been replaced by the new Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport.Today the airfield still has the Lowveld Aero Club where many pilots learned to fly including airshow display pilot Ivan van der Schaar. Compare to last year we were blessed with beautiful airshow weather and the days program flowed smoothly.The theme for this years show was ‘Rock The Runway’.

The show started with a Para drop from ‘Little Annie’ AN2 flown by Jon-Marc-Hill and a SAAF Casa 212 from 44 Squadron AFB Waterkloof,both had civilian skydivers and SANDF skydivers including the SAAF Golden Eagles Parachute Team. Different Harley Davidsons were part of the Cavalcade as the skydivers cam into land.Lowveld Radio Control Club flew their aerobatic RC aircraft,while a Kit fox showed off the aircraft versatility .The Bathawk showed why it can be such a great asset to tackling Rhino-Poaching in the Kruger National Park and other private reserves around the country .Airlink provided an Embraer E190 with two beautiful displays during the day.

High energy aerobatics from Team Extreme flying the MX2,Sbach,Extra 300 and Extra 330,led by SAA Training Captain Nigel Hopkins who also led the Goodyear Eagles flying Pitts S2Bs.It was the debut of the CHOC Cows Aerobatic team led by Scully Levin and also leading the Puma Flying Lions.Another airshow debut in his new colour scheme was Neville Ferreira in his Kitty Hawk based Slick 540.During the end of the program most display teams formed up in major formation which really isn’t seen at airshows in South Africa to often. Little Annie was then put through its paces in a solo display flown by Jason Beamish and Jon-Marc Hill. Ivan van der Schaar flew his Boeing Stearman with gentle aerobatics.

Capital Sounds were present from their busy schedule coming up, they’re provided the show with music from producer Ricky Fouche and commentary  from Brian Emmenis ,Elvis Manene and Leon Du Plessis,making sure the public had information on aircraft and the pilots present.line technicians Phillip Smith, Elvis Manene, Eric Nkomo and Wesley van Zyl, who also raced Little Annie on takeoff with the Yamaha sponsored scooter where Wesley was blown away!.

The South African Air force was present with a 2 Squadron JAS39D Gripen operating out of AFB Makhado flown by Major Mohau ‘Doberman’ Vundla and Navigator Marc ‘Bluebird’ Wilson.The 44 Squadron Casa 212 was used as a jump ship for the SANDF skydivers.A lonely 19 Squadron Oryx helicopter was on standby if any incidents had to occur during the day, it was used when a SANDF skydiver had trouble with his canopy and landed in a field not to far from the airshow center. The Ground Liaison Officer for the SAAF aircraft flying wads Major Ashley ‘Sensei’ Naxhe who now flies the Casa 212.

Working on fire had a number of aircraft flying during the show,this including a syncro drop from four AT802s and four Hueys .They’re were called out to go put a raging fire out on the outskirts of Nelspruit. The Airshow debut of the first civilian Blackhawk in South Africa ,what a great helicopter to see flying. We also saw to great displays from Danie Terblanche in the Robinson R66 and Juba Jourbert in the Aerospatiale Gazelle who also raced a Jaguar F-type and a super charged Range Rover Sport in a relay race.

Johan Heine, Chairman of the Lowveld Air Show and Safety director Francois ‘Hosepipe’ Hanekom made sure the show flowed smoothly .Kishugus Monica Fourie and Naranda Leewner kept Aviation Central with any news and regarding the show itself and providing us with great hospitality,we thank you.

The show ended with a dusk display from the Puma Flying Lions and Fireworks lighting the night sky up, this was another great Lowveld Airshow complete the rest of the night we were rocked away from the rock band.

 

 

 

 


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Opinions:

Flippie van Emmenis:

After many years of obstacles and barriers I finally get to attend the Lowveld Airshow, I had rather high expiations of the show as I followed reviews of the all the Lowveld airshows I missed in the past. This was the one South African airshow I recommended to everyone is the one that was not to be missed and they did not disappoint, Well-done to the Team at Kishugu, Brian Emmenis and all the Pilots and Support crews for this amazing weekend.  Your show and hospitality was top class!

Jarryd Sinovich: 

.What a great show,. Really enjoyed seeing the Blackhawk for the first time, see you all next  year…

Our next Airshow we are attending will be the Matsieng Airshow and Fly-in in Botswana 26 May 2018.

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