Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu.

Cape Town - Government will push state-owned arms manufacturers Denel to increase production of the Rooivalk attack helicopter, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Monday.

“We have to push them to do it and by doing so we have to assist them in whatever way to manufacture more because... everybody now wants a Rooivalk and they want a Rooivalk from South Africa,” she told journalists in Cape Town.

“The Rooivalk Attack Helicopter was for the first time deployed by the UN... and played a pivotal role in the demise of the M23 rebel armed group in the eastern part of the DRC,” the minister said.

The UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, known as Monusco, has praised the effectiveness of the attack helicopter. Its success generated interest from elsewhere in the world, meaning the defence industry would have to increase manufacturing capacity.

“Our defence industry has no choice. Even if we did not have the capacity to do some of these things the truth of the matter is wherever you go right now people are talking about the Rooivalk and people would want to order the Rooivalk... so our defence industry must be beefed up, must be assisted as we have been doing,” she said.

Sales of the helicopter would boost the economy and the standing of the country's defence industry.

“I think it's good for the country. It's good for our economy,” the minister said.

“It's good for the defence industry... because there's a lot of competition out there. It's good that they are beginning to identify South Africa as one of those countries that can play a very key role in supplying some of that equipment.”