The Atlas XH-1 Alpha is a prototype attack helicopter built by Atlas Aviation (now Denel) of South Africa, which used it as a concept demonstrator for the then-planned Rooivalk project.

XH-1 Alpha
XH-1 Alpha.jpg
Alpha XH-1
Role Prototype
Manufacturer Atlas Aviation
First flight 3 February 1985
Status Retired
Number built 1
Developed from Aérospatiale Alouette III


It was developed from an Aérospatiale Alouette III airframe, retaining that helicopter's engine and dynamic components, but replacing the original cockpit with a stepped tandem one, adding a 20 mm cannon under the chin and converting the undercarriage to tail-dragger configuration.

The XH-1 first flew on 3 February 1985,[1] and soon embarked on a rigorous flight test program to examine the feasibility of a dedicated attack helicopter in southern African conditions. The results were ultimately good enough to convince Atlas and the South African Air Force to go ahead with the development of a dedicated attack helicopter – the Denel Rooivalk.

The XH-1 and Rooivalk are completely different aircraft and share no components. The Rooivalk was developed from the later XH-2 prototype.

The sole XH-1 was retired sometime in the late 1980s and was handed over to the South African Air Force Museum, where it remains to this day.[citation needed]

Specifications (XH-1)Edit

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 10.56 m (34 ft 8 in)
  • Height: 2.73 m (8 ft 11 in)
  • Empty weight: 1,400 kg (3,086 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 2,200 kg (4,850 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Turbomeca Artouste IIIB turboshaft, 410 kW (550 hp)
  • Main rotor diameter: 11.02 m (36 ft 2 in)
  • Main rotor area: 95.4 m2 (1,027 sq ft)


  • Maximum speed: 200 km/h (120 mph, 110 kn)
  • Range: 550 km (340 mi, 300 nmi)


See alsoEdit

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists


  1. ^ Air International June 1986, p.599.
  • "An Alpha From Atlas". Air International, June 1986, Vol.30 No. 6. p. 299. ISSN 0306-5634.