Aviation & Aerospace - Airpower 2024 - Aircraft by Country - Aircraft Manufacturers Vehicles & Artillery - Armor 2024 - Armor by Country - Armor Manufacturers Infantry Small Arms - Warfighter 2024 - Small Arms by Country - Arms Manufacturers Warships & Submarines - Navies 2024 - Ships by Country - Shipbuilders U.S. Military Pay 2024 Military Ranks Special Forces by Country

Denel AH-2 Rooivalk (Kestrel)

Dedicated Two-Seat Attack Helicopter

South Africa | 2011

"The Denel AH-2 Rooivalk was developed using research gained from the XH-1 Alpha concept demonstrator."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 01/15/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Denel (then Atlas) AH-2 Rooivalk (translating to "Kestrel") was an ambitious and indigenous undertaking by the nation of South Africa. At the time of its development, the Rooivalk was heralded as one of the top performing and capable helicopters in existence and destined to become the best attack helicopters ever made. Unfortunately, cost overruns, limited production and no export orders have seen the system become a bloated and outdated design that is now in the hands of politics in deciding the fate of the machine.

The Rooivalk was born from a need of the South African Air Force to field a capable attack helicopter. Atlas (before becoming known as Denel) produced the XH-1 Alpha design to which served the company well in terms of developmental research. The XH-1 was based highly on the French-made Aerospatiale Alouette III system, though hardly a dedicated attack helicopter platform and still utilizing 1960's technology. XH-1 would flew in early 1986 followed by two converted XTP-1 Beta gunships in the form of Aerospatiale SA 330 Pumas (production versions of the Rooivalk would indeed feature the SA 330's transmission and rotor system), designed from the outset as test beds. Utilizing information gained form both test types, designs were being drawn up for the Rooivalk as early as 1984 with the initial flyable XH-2 Rooivalk getting airborne by early 1990. From the XH-2, two more developmental models appeared in XDM and EDM forms (see variants description down the page).

Production Rooivalks were being received by early 1999 with total deliveries being limited to just twelve examples. Naval versions were also under consideration, though many a setback has contributed to the projects delay and foreseeable demise. To any end, the Rooivalk would have been a major player on the foreign market would circumstances had been different at home and abroad. In any case, development of the Rooivalk - it being an indigenous undertaking - could yield some profitability for future home-bread attack helicopter designs by the African nation.

Design of the "production" Rooivalk produced something in the vein of the Italian Mangusta, with the pilot and gunner seated in a tandem seat cockpit. Short wing stubs offered up four hardpoints to which the Rooivalk could mount rocket pods or anti-tank missiles of the ZT6 Mokopa variety. Additionally, the wing stubs wingtips could support the French-made Mistral air-to-air missile system for self-defense. Standard armament included the chin-mounted Armscor F2 20mm cannon. Up to sixteen ZT6 anti-tank missiles could be carried, similar to the AH-64 Apache's use of the Hellfire. Twin powerful Turbomeca Makila 1K2 turboshaft engines powered a large four-blade main rotor and a five-blade tail rotor system.

Article Continues Below Advertisement...
The delays and cost overruns have extensively hampered further production and any international interest in the form of export orders. The system remains outdated as it still retains computer technology that is some twenty years old. Additionally, the Denel company was suffering from financial unrest, scaring off any potential international sales who had a fear of purchasing the unit only to see its underlying support disappear in the future. Denel ties to the Eurocopter firm might save the Rooivalk project in that respect, though that kind of partnership remains to be seen seeing it that Denel was looking to sell Rooivalks on the export market knowing it was also selling French-made components in the process.

As of this writing, only 12 examples have been delivered with few in complete operational form. There are talks of either canceling the entire program in full and retiring the existing units or taking on another series of developmental versions and bringing out a new and up-to-date Rooivalk attack helicopter. The status of the future of the Rooivalk program is under debate.

The Rooivalk Mk 1.1 is a new standard in play that is set to modernize the existing AH-2 fleet. This will install a missile warning system as well as updated avionics. The work will take place from April 2017 on.

Eleven Rooivalk combat helicopters currently (2018) make up the South African Air Force fleet, these being assigned to 16 Squadron.

2013 marked the first combat operations for the Rooivalk series when three units were committed to the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

September 2016 - The Rooivalk's good showing against insurgents in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during its 2013 peacekeeping mission has given rise to talks concerning an export variant of the AH-2 - the Rooivalk Mk II.

Content ©MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Denel AH-2 Rooivalk (Kestrel) Dedicated Two-Seat Attack Helicopter.
2 x Turbomeca Makila 1K2 turboshaft engines developing 1,845 horsepower each and driving a four-blade main rotor and a five-blade tail rotor.
173 mph
278 kph | 150 kts
Max Speed
20,000 ft
6,096 m | 4 miles
Service Ceiling
438 miles
705 km | 381 nm
Operational Range
2,620 ft/min
799 m/min
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Denel AH-2 Rooivalk (Kestrel) Dedicated Two-Seat Attack Helicopter.
61.5 ft
18.73 m
O/A Length
51.1 ft
(15.58 m)
O/A Width
17.0 ft
(5.19 m)
O/A Height
12,632 lb
(5,730 kg)
Empty Weight
19,290 lb
(8,750 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Denel AH-2 Rooivalk (Kestrel) Dedicated Two-Seat Attack Helicopter .
1 x 20mm Armscor F2 cannon in chin-mounted turret.

Mission-specific ordnance can include any of the following:

16 x ZT6 Mokopa anti-tank missiles
70mm rocket launching pods
Mistral infrared homing air-to-air missiles (on wingtip mounts)
Notable series variants as part of the Denel AH-2 Rooivalk (Kestrel) family line.
XH-1 - Alpha concept demonstrator based on the French-built Alouette III design.
XTP-1 Beta - French-built Puma helicopters modified as gunships for evaluation and testing.
XH-2 "Rooivalk" - Initial Prototype Designation
XDM (eXperimental Development Model) - A redesignation of the XH-2 prototype; avionics and weapons development platform.
EDM (Engineering Developmental Model) - Production Evaluation Model.
CSH-2 - Initial Production Model Designation
AH-2 - Redesignation of the CSH-2 Production Model occurring in 1998.
AH-2 Mk I - Original Production Models
AH-2 Mk 1.1 - Modernized standard; work beginning in April 2017.
AH-2 Mk 2 - Proposed export variant of Mk 1.1
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Denel AH-2 Rooivalk (Kestrel). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 12 Units

Contractor(s): Denel (Atlas) - South Africa
National flag of South Africa

[ South Africa ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 200mph
Lo: 100mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (173mph).

Graph Average of 150 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
1 / 1
Image of the Denel AH-2 Rooivalk (Kestrel)
Image copyright www.MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Denel AH-2 Rooivalk (Kestrel) Dedicated Two-Seat Attack Helicopter appears in the following collections:
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Scale Military Ranks U.S. DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols US 5-Star Generals WW2 Weapons by Country

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

Part of a network of sites that includes Global Firepower, WDMMA.org, WDMMW.org, and World War Next.

©2024 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2024 (21yrs)