ATLAS AVIATION of South Africa is discussing with Malaysia a series of industrial co-production options for the CSH-2 Rooivalk, to meet the country's pending requirement for a new attack helicopter.

The South African company faces strong competition from McDonnell Douglas with its AH-64D Apache for the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) order for 12-24 helicopters (Flight International, 11-17 October). In an effort to clinch the sale, Atlas is examining ways of involving Malaysia's embryonic aerospace industry in the programme.

Proposals being discussed are understood to include Malaysian kit assembly of the helicopter, or the fitting out locally of South African-built green airframes with avionics and equipment.

Work would be carried out locally either by Airod or state-owned SME Technologies. Malaysian Helicopter Services, which recently acquired a controlling interest in Airod, is keen to expand the company's activities beyond aircraft maintenance and to develop a manufacturing capability.

SME's Aviation division is already producing the two-seat Aero Tiga primary trainer, formerly the Swiss Datwyler MD3-160, while SME Aerospace produces pylons for the British Aerospace Hawk.

Atlas, in the meantime, is preparing to roll out its first pre-production standard Rooivalk helicopter by the end of the year. Systems and flight-control installation is scheduled to begin in early 1996, with a first flight in May or June.

The helicopter will sport a variety of modifications already retrofitted to the first two Rooivalk prototypes. The new Rooivalk will offer "improved maintainability, producibility and testability", claims Atlas.

Changes include new, more powerful, engines; a reshaped engine housing, for reduced infra-red signature; lighter straight-wing stubs; a 700-round ammunition sponson; a smaller environmental-control system for cooler-running avionics; and a thinner-skin-thickness fuselage, which produces a 1,000kg weight saving.

The South African company has denied media reports in Johannesburg that it has already clinched the $600 million deal and that it is expected to announce the signing at the Lima 96 defence show, which was scheduled to start in Malaysia on 5 December.


Source: Flight International