Tag Archives: RooivalkAttackHelicopter

Chief of The SAAF Lieutenant General Fabian Msimang Retreat Parade

A rather sad day to be at Air force Base Swartkop on the afternoon of the last day of September 2020,cuddled around a number of cumulonimbus clouds kept their distance as a final retreat parade could take place with a magnificent background as the Chief of the South African Air Force retired.  


Lieutenant General Fabian “BlackHawk” Zimpande (Zakes) Msimang,a former operational helicopter pilots on various types of SAAF Helicopters he flew during his time,including MI8,MI25,Alouette III and Oryx Helicopters just to name a few.

On 28 September 2012,Msimang was appointed the new Chief of the South African Airforce as Lieutenant-General Carlo Gagiano retired from the SAAF.


As we all know,Covid-19 has all hit us all hard,this cancelling a number of events such as airshows in the aviation industry and most important celebrating the SAAFs centenary,with the cancellation of Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD2020),we could not have a 100 year celebration airshow taking into consideration of being the world’s second oldest air force after the Royal Airforce (RAF).And yes the Chief and the Deputy Chief Major General Innocent Buthelezi mentioned we are the second oldest air force in the world!

By 5pm a number of SAAF aircraft including helicopters and fixed wing assets took to the skies around the Pretoria area.Before the outgoing Chief opened the flypasts flying the Alouette III part of the South African Air force Museum.

The next elements of the flypast columns included the De Havilland Vampire T55,flown by Rama “Dynamite”Iyer and Vladimir “Spoetnik” Schultz.The Museums Aerospatiale Puma SA330 and Alouette II closely followed behind.

SAAF Museum De Havilland Vampire T55
SAAF Museum De Havilland Vampire T55
SAAF Museum Aerospatiale Puma & Alouette II

The big chopper formation was soon over Snake Valley led by a 16 Squadron Rooivalk Attack Helicopter,flanked by various helicopters from squadrons across South Africa,including two Lynx Mk 64 Helicopters all the way from AFB Ysterplaat in Cape Town,A number of Agusta A109LUHs and Oryx Helicopters also formed part of the formation.
The former school master of the sky the Harvard formation including Two Museum Harvards and two Harvard Club aircraft were next over the podium.

Mass Helicopter Formation
Rooivalk,Lynx MK 64,Oryx & Agusta A109LUH
Mass Helicopter Formation
SAAF Museum & Harvard Club (Harvard Formation)
SAAF Museum & Harvard Club (Harvard Formation)

The Lycoming formation were next with a Cessna C185,a Kudu and a Bosbok making up for the taildragger aircraft in the museum fleet.41 Squadron put on a tight formation with a leading Pilatus PC12,Two KingAirs and five Cessna 208A Caravans.

SAAF Museum Cessna C185,Kudu & Bosbok
41 Squadron Pilatus PC12
41 Squadron Formation
41 Squadron Formation

Pelican Formation was next with a 35 Squadron C47TP Turbo Dakota,while a 44 Squadron Casa 212 kept tightly behind the Daks 6 o’clock position.Open the gates its 28 Squadron with Two C130BZ Hercules Transport aircraft in formation with four Central Flying School Pilatus PC-7 MKII ab initio trainers.

35 Squadron C47TP & 44 Squadron Casa 212
35 Squadron C47TP
C130BZs & Pilatus PC7MKIIs
C130BZs & Pilatus PC7MKIIs

The last flypast was the combat formation consisting of two 2 Squadron JAS39 Gripens and four Hawks from 85 Combat Flying School.The formation was led by Major Geoffrey “Spartan” Cooper.
As the parade continued with a change of command tradition,a flag setting.

Gripen & Hawk Formation
Gripen & Hawk Formation

The South African Air Force band entertained the VIP Guests and members of the SAAF and Media. The surprise flypast of a Gripen from, behind the seated guests pitched up into the dark sky while releasing flares.Surely presented the chief with a final loud and spectacular goodbye.

Gripen Flare drop

Attending the after function,where we were kindly invited by the outgoing chief,it came time to give one final speech with tears in his eyes “he mentioned to be in an Air Force that Inspires Confidence we need to be confident in ourselves.Since I started here,I have always believed that you,each of you,are more capable.I believed and still do that you have the capacity to make this organisation into something bigger than what it was.”

We were treated to a delicious dinner and cold beverages before leaving the base,well done to all involved in making the final event for the chief a success.


We would like to wish the former chief of the South African Air force all the best for his future and a restful retirement,we’d like to take the time to thank you for making the time for us and giving us the opportunities that some didn’t have.
We thank you sir.

Video Below

Click on photo below to enlarge

First Rooivalk Flight 11th February 1990-30 Years On!

The Denel Rooivalk is an attack helicopter manufactured by Denel Aviation of South Africa. Rooivalk is Afrikaans for “Red Falcon”

16 Squadron Rooivalk SAAF Museum Flying Day 1 February 2020

The Rooivalk attack helicopter First Flight Rooivalk XDM was 30 years ago on the 11th February 1990,back in the days of the then Atlas Aircraft Coporation now known today as Denel Aeronautics.

Fitting the gearboxes to the Rooivalk XDM

Development of the type began in 1984 by Atlas Aircraft Coporation its development is closely connected to the Denel Oryx medium transport helicopter, both aircraft being based on the Aerospatiale SA330 Puma Helicopter and having started development at the same time on both projects.

Denel Oryx

Development of the Rooivalk was protracted due to the impact of limited budgets during the 1990s, and a desire to produce a highly advanced attack helicopter.

Being towed out for the first test flight from the Atlas Aircraft Coporation

Developing an entirely new helicopter from scratch would have involved designing and developing many accompanying subsystems and components, such as the turboshaft engines and the dynamic systems, such as the main and tail rotor systems and the gearboxes.

Rooivalk XDM during a test flight

Due to the great difficulty posed by the prospects of designing and manufacturing a clean-design helicopter, which would have substantially increased the cost and timescale of the project, it was decided to base the attack helicopter upon an existing design. At the time, the SAAF operated two principal helicopter types – the Alouette III and the SA330 Puma.

SAAF Museum SA330 Puma & Alouette III

 The Alouette III was a small helicopter which originated from the 1960s; due to the age of the design and a lack of engine power, it was not considered a favourable candidate for further development work.

The Puma was substantially larger and was equipped with more powerful engines; both factors provided a broader basis for the accommodation of additional equipment and for potential growth.

Another key factor for its selection was the parallel development of a localised and improvement model of the Puma in South Africa, known as the Atlas AS32 Oryx. The Oryx possessed an increased power-to-weight ratio and had improved performance in the high temperature climate that the type was typically being operated in; development of the Oryx was far quicker than what would become the Rooivalk as it was a more straightforward program.

 Other potential sources were mooted, such as the use of propulsion elements of the Aerospatiale Daulphin ; the adoption of these components has been speculated to have likely resulted in a smaller and potentially more economic rotorcraft.

Ultimately, it was decided to adopt both the powerplant and dynamic systems of the Oryx—which bore significant similarities to their Puma and now Airbus Helicopters AS332 Super Puma ancestors—as the basis for the planned attack helicopter;

Commonality with the Oryx systems would simplify logistics and reduce maintenance costs. This meant that the attack helicopter would have a significantly large airframe, giving it long range and the capability to carry many sensors and armaments.

During the 1980s, the defence budgets of South Africa were relatively generous, especially in contrast to later decades, thus Denel sought to provide a rotorcraft that would be amongst, even potentially superior to, the best attack helicopters in the world.

The helicopter, later named the Rooivalk, was envisioned as an agile, highly sophisticated gunship, especially suited to the threats of the Angolan conflict and countering vehicles such as the T-55 battle tank.

Rooivalk on display in Farnbrough International Airshow, United Kingdom

Three Rooivalk attack helicopters have been deployed with the United Nations to support of the stabilization in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2013.

16 Squadron Rooivalk & SAAF Museum Alouette II

There has been more occasions where the Rooivalks have seen action with the support of fire power in the DRC on a number of peace support missions since 2013.

UN painted Rooivalk AFD2019 Cape Town

The Rooivalk attack helicopter is based at Airforce Base Bloemspruit in the Central Free state province, flying for 16 Squadron, also home to 87 Helicopter Flying School, flying Agusta A109LUH and Oryx helicopters. The South African Airforce have just under a dozen on strength flying to date.

General Fabian “Zakes” Msimang stated:”The continued operation and future sustainability of the hardest working air assets of the SAAF being the Oryx, Rooivalk and C130, rely on an efficient and effective Original Equipment Manufacturer and Technical Design Authority of the Rotary Wing assets” during the recent Prestige day parade held at AFB Swartkop on January 31.

16 Squadron Rooivalk AAD2018
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial