Denel CSH-2 / AH-2 "Rooivalk"


Designed and produced in South Africa, the Atlas CSH-2 Rooivalk or 'Red Kestrel' is a battlefield support and attack helicopter, capable of day night and adverse weather operations. It was developed through the 1980s using the experience gained in producing the Puma helicopter for the South African Air Force and in building two experimental attack helicopters based on the older French Alouette design.

The Rooivalk's extra-strong fuselage is mostly metal but with some composites. It has stepped tandem cockpits, with the pilot in the rear and the co-pilot/gunner in the front. The cockpit canopies are formed from flat plate on single curvature sheets to minimise glint from the sun. The twin Topaz turboshaft engines are uprated versions of the Turbomeca Turmo IV and the main rotor is similar to that fitted to the Aerospatiale Puma.

With a total of only 16 Rooivalks ordered for the South African Air Force, further production is uncertain. Foreign sales have yet to materialise.

R.Jackson "Helicopters. Military, Civilian, and Rescue Rotorcraft", 2005

Denel CSH-2

Born out of the South African Air Force's need for an escort and close air support helicopter, the Rooivalk programme was initiated in the early 1980s by Atlas Aviation.

Relying on their own resources, due to trade embargoes with South Africa, Atlas Aviation produced an experimental tandem-seat attack helicopter based on the Alouette III which was designated the Alpha XH-1.

The Alpha XH-1 was purely a test-bed for weapon and cockpit systems. It was fitted with a GA-1 Rattler 20mm cannon in a steerable turret, linked to a Kukri helmet-mounted sight. During 1987, the first of two XTP-1 Puma-based test-beds were built and used to evaluate engines, avionics, optronics, weapons and associated control systems for the larger airframe. These test-beds also included the use of locally-produced composite materials used in both airframe and rotor systems.

The first Rooivalk prototype was unveiled in January 1990 and the second prototype, or advanced design model, flew for the first time in May 1992. It differed from the original experimental design model in having the production 1553B databus and full anti-armour mission equipment fitted. It was also armed with the 20mm cannon fitted in a TC-20 chin turret.

The South African Air Force purchased four Rooivalk CHS-2s in 1993 and intend to eventually operate a Squadron of at least 16 Rooivalks. The Rooivalk was also offered to the British Army to fulfil their Attack Helicopter requirement.

Rooivalk CHS-2 (Kestrel)

This tandem-seat helicopter is based around a Puma transmission and dynamics and has been built using composite materials. Powered by two Turbomeca Makila turboshafts developing 1175kW it has an all-up-weight of 3245kg. The helicopter can be armed with an assortment of weapons and is capable of operating day or night. Weapons include: 20mm cannon fitted in a TC-20 chin turret or larger DEFA 30mm cannon in a TC-30 chin turret, 2 x 18-tube rocket pods, 2 box launchers for 4 laser beam-riding ZT-35 anti-tank guided missiles, 2 Kukri or Darter Infra-Red homing air-to-air missiles.

R.Simpson "Airlife's Helicopter and Rotorcraft", 1998

Atlas CSH-2

Technical data for CSH-2

Crew: 2, Engine: 2 x Turbomeca "Makila" IA2 turboshaft, rated at 1470kW, main rotor diameter: 15.58m, length with rotors turning: 18.73m, fuselage length: 16.4m, height: 4.59m, take-off weight: 8750kg, empty weight: 5910kg, max speed: 309km/h, cruising speed: 278km/h, service ceiling: 6100m, hovering ceiling, OGE: 5545m, range with max fuel: 705km, range with max take-off mass and with external fuel tanks: 1260km

AH-2 at the Change of Command Parade at Thaba Tshwane Sports Ground, Pretoria. Photo courtesy artlovr59 at 

AH-2 at the Change of Command Parade at Thaba Tshwane Sports Ground, Pretoria. Photo courtesy artlovr59 at DeviantArt.

A Rooivalk flying at the Ysterplaat air show in 2006.

A Rooivalk at AFB Ysterplaat in Cape Town, South Africa.