Denel Aviation of South Africa has launched a preliminary study into developing a maritime derivative of its CSH-2 Rooivalk attack helicopter, fitted with a search radar and anti-ship missiles in an effort to widen the machine's appeal. The company revealed a model of the new variant at the show.

The modified Rooivalk would feature an as yet unidentified chin-mounted 360¼ maritime radar in place of the anti-tank helicopter's 20mm cannon. The machine's nose-mounted gyro-stabilised sensors' turret would incorporate a "visionics suite", including a new forward-looking infrared system.

Changes will be made to the Rooivalk's tandem-seat cockpit configuration to accommodate crewing tasking, while full night and autopilot capabilities will be retained. "This could involve swapping cockpits," says Denel. The existing attack helicopter design has the pilot positioned in a raised aft bay, with the weapon system officer seated forward.

It is envisaged that the maritime version will require enhanced electronic countermeasures and communications systems, for which Denel claims there is already sufficient spare space.

The lower fin-mounted tailwheel would be moved forward by 2m for a shorter wheelbase and improved shipborne deck manoeuvrability. Emergency flotation gear would be incorporated into the forward sponsons and tailboom, while the four-blade main rotor is manually foldable for hanger storage.

Other modifications would include shorter wing stubs, with wet hardpoints for auxiliary drop fuel tanks and anti-ship missiles, such as either the Aerospatiale AM-39 Exocet or the Kongsberg AGM-119 Penguin. The Rooivalk would retain provision for two wingtip air-to-air missiles in the form of the local Kentron Kukri or Matra BAe Mistral.

Denel, in the meantime, is planning to roll out its first production standard version of the land attack Rooivalk in November. The South African Air Force has ordered 12 machines, with the first delivery scheduled for 1999. The South African manufacturer is still seeking an inaugural export order.

Source: Flight International