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12 mars 2014 3 12 /03 /mars /2014 21:45
South African expertise and equipment again adds value to UN DRC operations


12 March 2014 defenceWeb


The South African contingent of the MONUSCO Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) has again proven its worth in the DRC with Rooivalk combat support helicopters and infantry soldiers pivotal in an encounter with APCLS (Alliance of Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo) rebels.


One of the three 16 Squadron Rooivalks that are now part of the FIB’s aviation unit provided air support for a South African infantry battalion in an attack on an APCLS stronghold at the weekend, Afrikaans daily Beeld reported.


“No South Africans were injured in the encounter and at least 11 rebels were killed,” Captain (SAN) Jaco Theunissen, SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Joint Operations spokesman told the paper.


The South Africans were, as in previous engagements with rebel groups including M23, deployed in support of FARDC, the Armed Forces of the DRC.


The weekend engagement took place in the Nyabiondo/Lukweti area of North Kivu, north-west of Goma.


APCLS rebels had taken up position on a mountain top and were using 12.7mm and 14.5 mm machine guns to keep the FIB/FARDC ground troops at bay. Efforts to dislodge the rebels using mortars proved unsuccessful and saw the Rooivalk called in to provide air support.


“The target was neutralised by Rooivalk by mid-Sunday afternoon and the rebel group deserted their position and ran away according to reports from soldiers on the ground,” Theunissen said adding the full extent of the damage suffered by the rebels was unknown, with 11 still to be confirmed kills.


A source told Beeld this was “just about the end” of APCLS.


“The FIB has taken back a number of towns previously controlled by APCLS,” he said.


According to Institute for Strategic Studies (ISS) DRC specialist Stephanie Wolters, APCLS is one of the smaller rebel groups operating in eastern DRC but it has been a factor in the overall destabilisation of the country.


Since being deployed to DRC last year as part of the FIB, the first ever UN peacekeeping mission to be given an offensive mandate, the South African contingent has been active in ensuring M23’s retreat into Uganda.


The South African developed and built Rooivalk has been in the forefront of a number of FARDC/FIB sorties against various rebel groups including the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces).


The combat support helicopter has earned high praise from Martin Kobler, MONUSCO head.


“Its accuracy enables us to achieve our clear objectives, including protection of civilians.”


The 16 Squadron rotary-winged aircraft were airlifted to the DRC last October and, in addition to several attacks on rebel forces and positions, have also flown reconnaissance and escort missions in the strife-torn country.


A number of SA Air Force (SAAF) Oryx helicopters are also in DRC as part of the MONUSCO peacekeeping mission.

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12 novembre 2013 2 12 /11 /novembre /2013 17:45
Combat Debut for Rooivalk

One of three Rooivalh helicopters painted white for the mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was seen at SAAF AFB Bloemspruit, home to the SA Air Force’s 16 Squadron, which operates 11 Rooivalks. Photo via Defenseweb.


November 7, 2013 defense-update.com


The South African Denel DH-2 Rooivalk attack helicopter made its combat debut on Monday 4 November, 2013 while conducting armed overwatch and close air support flights of UN personnel in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South African media has reported. The SAAF deployed three Rooivalk helicopters to the DRC in late October, clearing them to begin operations on the day that this first contact took place. This is the first time Rooivalk helicopters have engaged in combat since the prototype’s first flight 23 years ago. Another South African news outlet, DefenceWeb, reported that the Rooivalks had conducted their offensive operations against M23 positions in partnership with a pair of Mil Mi-24/35 ‘Hind’ helicopters of the FIB. The report was not clear on who was operating these Hinds, but India and Ukraine are known to have contributed such helicopters to MONUSCO – the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo.


Combat Debut for Rooivalk

Rooivalk firing rockets on firing demonstration.


Two South African Air Force (SAAF) Rooivalks fired multiple 70 mm rocket salvos against M23 rebel bunkers close to the Rwandan border, while operating on behalf of the MONUSCO and its Force Intervention Brigade (FIB). According to the South African website African Defence Review, early reports from sources in the area indicate that the action was successful, with the Rooivalks’ tactical approach through the clouds taking the M23 defenders by surprise and their rocket fire being accurate enough to disperse them and destroy one of the 14.5 mm anti-aircraft guns that had been previously used to fire at the Rooivalks and other helicopters.


The attack was combined with a renewed FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo) assault and subsequent claims by the DRC government that the remaining M23 senior commanders have now fled across the border into Rwanda. However this could not be independently verified. Established in November 1999 to monitor and keep the peace in the DRC, MONUSCO currently comprises some 20,688 military and police personnel from 56 countries. According to UN figures, 61 MONUSCO personnel have been killed since the mission began.

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10 octobre 2013 4 10 /10 /octobre /2013 17:45
Rooivalk looks set for DRC deployment

Rooivalk set for DRC deployment


10 October 2013 by Kim Helfrich,- defenceWeb


Just on 30 years after development work started on a home-grown attack helicopter, South Africa’s Rooivalk seems set for its first operational deployment.


This is the inference drawn from a photograph circulating on social media of a Rooivalk with its customary camouflaged fuselage replaced by white paint. The photo was taken at AFB Bloemspruit, home to the SA Air Force’s 16 Squadron, which operates 11 Rooivalks.


The sighting of the white combat support helicopter comes after SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Joint Operations Chief Lieutenant General derrick Mgwebi in August said South Africa had no say in whether the Rooivalk would be deployed to support the UN Forward Intervention Brigade (FIB) in the DRC.


“South Africa is a troop contributing country and it does not decide on what military assets will be utilised,” he told a media briefing in Thaba Tshwane.


“The UN as the co-ordinator of the FIB has been made fully aware of the capabilities of the Rooivalk and any decision on its deployment into the eastern DRC theatre has to be made by the world body. We have told them what the rate for the Rooivalk is and a decision on whether or not it will go to the DRC rests solely with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.


“Until a letter of assistance confirming the UN wants Rooivalk in the DRC is received, no aircraft from 16 Squadron will leave South Africa,” he said.


That at least one and possibly two of 16 Squadron’s inventory are now in UN white indicates the UN has taken a decision in favour of the rotary-winged aircraft that started life as a tank buster meant for use in the Border War.


At the time of publication no official confirmation of the Rooivalk DRC deployment had been received from the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF’s) communications directorate.


Military aviation experts and enthusiasts were making use of chatrooms to spread the word, discussing possible armament and transport options to the eastern DRC.


On armament, aviation commentator Darren Olivier was of the opinion the Rooivalk will be equipped with the FZ 90 70 mm wraparound fin air rocket (WAFAR), carrying up to 76 in four underwing pods and 700 rounds of ammunition for the 20 mm F2 cannon. No Mokopa or other anti-tank missiles will be loaded “but the rockets and cannon are potent weapons,” he said.


Another chatroom poster said an Antonov An-124 cargo aircraft was due in at OR Tambo International Airport late last night and wondered if it would pick up Rooivalks for the DRC.

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