The Atlas Aircraft Corporation of South Africa (also known as Atlas Aviation) was established in 1965to manufacture a number of sophisticated military aircraft and avionics equipment for the South African Air Force, as well as for export. It was established primarily to circumvent the international arms embargo (United Nations Security Council Resolution 418) commenced in 1963 against the South African government because of its Apartheid policies.
South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European (White), Asian (Indian), and multiracial (Coloured) ancestry.
Avionics are the electronic systems used on aircraft, artificial satellites, and spacecraft. Avionic systems include communications, navigation, the display and management of multiple systems, and the hundreds of systems that are fitted to aircraft to perform individual functions. These can be as simple as a searchlight for a police helicopter or as complicated as the tactical system for an airborne early warning platform. The term avionics is a portmanteau of the words aviation and electronics.
The South African Air Force (SAAF) is the air force of South Africa, with headquarters in Pretoria. The South African Air Force was established on 1 February 1920. The Air Force has seen service in World War II and the Korean War. From 1966 the SAAF was involved in providing infantry support in a low intensity war in Angola, South-West Africa (Namibia) and Rhodesia. As the war progressed, the intensity of air operations increased until in the late 1980s, the SAAF were compelled to fly fighter missions against Angolan aircraft in order to maintain tactical air superiority. On conclusion of the Border War in 1990, aircraft numbers were severely reduced due to economic pressures as well as the cessation of hostilities with neighbouring states. Today the SAAF has a limited air combat capability and has been structured towards regional peace-keeping, disaster relief and maritime patrol operations. During the apartheid era, it was known by its Afrikaans name of Suid-Afrikaanse Lugmag, a moniker which has since been depreciated.
With the establishment in 1968 of the South African government-owned conglomerate named Armscor (Armaments Corporation of South Africa), the Atlas Aircraft Corporation was also brought under Armscor's control.
A conglomerate is a combination of multiple business entities operating in entirely different industries under one corporate group, usually involving a parent company and many subsidiaries. Often, a conglomerate is a multi-industry company. Conglomerates are often large and multinational.
Armscor, the Armaments Corporation of South Africa is the arms procurement agency of the South African Department of Defence. It was originally established in 1968 as an arms production company, primarily as a response to the international sanctions by the United Nations against South Africa due to apartheid which began in 1963 and were formalised in 1967.
In 1992 Atlas was absorbed into a new entity known as Denel, becoming part of Denel Aviation.
Denel SOC Ltd is a South African state-owned aerospace and military technology conglomerate established in 1992. It was created when the manufacturing subsidiaries of Armscor were split off in order for Armscor to become the procurement agency for South African Defence Force (SADF), now known as the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), and the manufacturing divisions were grouped together under Denel as divisions.
Denel Aviation is the aircraft maintenance division of the state-owned Denel corporation of South Africa. It is one of the successors of the Atlas Aircraft Corporation.
Atlas built and maintained a variety of aircraft:
The Aermacchi or Macchi MB-326 is a light military jet trainer designed in Italy. Originally conceived as a two-seat trainer, there have also been single and two-seat light attack versions produced. It is one of the most commercially successful aircraft of its type, being bought by more than 10 countries and produced under licence in Australia, Brazil and South Africa. It set many category records, including an altitude record of 56,807 ft on 18 March 1966. More than 800 MB-326s were constructed between 1961–1975.
A jet engine is a type of reaction engine discharging a fast-moving jet that generates thrust by jet propulsion. This broad definition includes airbreathing jet engines. In general, jet engines are combustion engines.
A trainer is a class of aircraft designed specifically to facilitate flight training of pilots and aircrews. The use of a dedicated trainer aircraft with additional safety features—such as tandem flight controls, forgiving flight characteristics and a simplified cockpit arrangement—allows pilots-in-training to safely advance their real-time piloting, navigation and warfighting skills without the danger of overextending their abilities alone in a fully featured aircraft.
Atlas also assisted the South African Air Force to maintain its fleet of planes that had been purchased (mostly) prior to the onset of sanctions in the 1970s.
The Denel Rooivalk is an attack helicopter manufactured by Denel Aviation of South Africa. Rooivalk is Afrikaans for "Red Falcon". Development of the type began in 1984 by the Atlas Aircraft Corporation, its development is closely connected to the Atlas Oryx transport helicopter, both aircraft being based on the Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma and having started development at the same time.
The Atlas Oryx is a medium-sized utility helicopter manufactured by the Atlas Aircraft Corporation of South Africa.
The Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma is a four-bladed, twin-engined medium transport/utility helicopter. The Puma was originally built by Sud Aviation of France, and continued to be made by Aérospatiale. It was also license-built in Romania as the IAR 330; two advanced, unlicensed derivatives, the Denel Rooivalk and Atlas Oryx, were made in South Africa. The Puma was a commercial success and was quickly developed into more advanced models such as the AS332 Super Puma and AS532 Cougar, manufactured by Eurocopter since the early 1990s. These descendants of the Puma remain in production in the 21st century.
An attack helicopter is an armed helicopter with the primary role of an attack aircraft, with the capability of engaging targets on the ground, such as enemy infantry and armored fighting vehicles. Due to their heavy armament they are sometimes called helicopter gunships.
The Test Flight and Development Centre is a unit of the South African Air Force. It is a test flight and evaluation organisation.
The G5 is a South African towed howitzer of 155 mm calibre designed and developed in South Africa by Denel Land Systems. The G5 design was based on the Canadian GC-45 155mm gun which was highly modified to suit southern African conditions.
The Atlas XH-1 Alpha is a prototype attack helicopter built by Atlas Aviation of South Africa, which used it as a concept demonstrator for the then-planned Rooivalk project.
Denel Dynamics, formerly Kentron, is a division of Denel SOC Ltd, a South African armaments development and manufacturing company wholly owned by the South African Government. It underwent a name change from Kentron to Denel Aerospace Systems during the early part of 2004 and later to Denel Dynamics. Denel Dynamics is located in Centurion, South Africa. Several sites are operating according to ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 certified.
Aerosud is an aeronautical engineering and manufacturing company, formed in 1990 by the then key designers of the South African Denel Rooivalk attack helicopter, together with similar leaders from the Atlas Cheetah fighter program and the Product Support Environment.
The Cameroon Air Force is the air force of Cameroon. The Cameroon Air Force, along with the Cameroon Army, the Cameroon Navy, the National Gendarmerie, and the Presidential Guard make up the Cameroonian Armed Forces.
The Atlas Carver was a proposed South African twin-engine, delta wing fourth-generation fighter aircraft. In development during the 1980s and early 1990s, the Carver was ultimately cancelled during 1991.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 418, adopted unanimously on 4 November 1977, imposed a mandatory arms embargo against South Africa. This resolution differed from the earlier Resolution 282, which was only voluntary. The embargo was subsequently tightened and extended by Resolution 591.
The Atlas XTP-1 Beta was an Aerospatiale SA.330 Puma converted by Atlas Aircraft Corporation as testbed for testing and evaluation of the Rooivalk's dynamic systems. Two of these Puma modifications were built, both having stub wings that carried two underwing pylons and one wingtip store. One XTP-1 Beta was seen on display with two rocket/gun pods on the pylons of each wing, underbelly 20mm GA-1 turret, and a data probe on the nose at the starboard side.
The South African Air Force Museum houses exhibits and restores material related to the history of the South African Air Force. The museum is divided into three locations, AFB Swartkop outside Pretoria, AFB Ysterplaat in Cape Town and at the Port Elizabeth airport.
The Denel Land Systems GI-2 is an autocannon manufactured by Denel Land Systems (DLS) and used by the South African Army, Navy, Air Force, Royal Thai Navy, Indonesian Army and Navy.
16 Squadron SAAF is an attack helicopter squadron of the South African Air Force (SAAF). It was originally formed in World War II as a maritime patrol squadron, however, over the course of the war it was disbanded and reformed a number of times, operating a number of different types of aircraft. It was finally disbanded in June 1945 and was not re-raised until 1968 as a helicopter squadron. In the late 1980s the squadron took part in the conflict in Angola before being disbanded again in 1990. It was raised once more in 1999 and it is currently operating the Rooivalk attack helicopter.
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