Aérospatiale Alouette III

Last updated
SA 316/SA 319 Alouette III
Sud SA 316B Alouette III A-247 (cropped).jpg
A Netherlands Air Force Alouette III during '100th Anniversary of Dutch Military Aviation' airshow
RoleLight utility helicopter
National originFrance
Manufacturer Sud Aviation
First flight28 February 1959
StatusIn service
Primary users French Armed Forces
Rhodesian Air Force
Indian Armed Forces [N 1]
Portuguese Air Force [1]
South African Air Force [1] (historical)
(HAL Chetak still in production)
Number built2,000+
Developed from Aérospatiale Alouette II
Variants IAR 316
Developed into Aérospatiale Gazelle
Atlas XH-1 Alpha

The Aérospatiale Alouette III (French pronunciation:  [alwɛt] , Lark; company designations SA 316 and SA 319) is a single-engine, light utility helicopter developed by French aircraft company Sud Aviation. During its production life, it proved to be a relatively popular rotorcraft; including multiple licensed manufacturers, in excess of 2,000 units were constructed.

Utility helicopter multi-purpose helicopter

A utility helicopter is a multi-purpose helicopter capable of fulfilling many different roles.

France Republic with majority of territory in Europe and numerous oversea territories around the world

France, officially the French Republic, is a sovereign state whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.02 million. France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Sud Aviation 1957-1970 aerospace manufacturer in France

Sud-Aviation was a French state-owned aircraft manufacturer, originating from the merger of Sud-Est and Sud-Ouest on 1 March 1957. Both companies had been formed from smaller privately owned corporations that had been nationalized into six regional design and manufacturing pools just prior to World War II.


The Alouette III was developed as an enlarged derivative of the earlier and highly successful Alouette II. Sharing many elements with its predecessor while offering an extra pair of seats and other refinements, it quickly became a commercial success amongst both civil and military customers. Further variants were also developed; amongst these was a high-altitude derivative, designated as the SA 315B Lama, entered operational service during July 1971. The Alouette III was principally manufactured by Aérospatiale; the type was also built under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in India as the HAL Chetak, by Industria Aeronautică Română (IAR) in Romania as the IAR 316 and F+W Emmen (de) in Switzerland.

Aérospatiale Alouette II 1950s light utility helicopter series by Sud Aviation and Aerospatiale

The Aérospatiale Alouette II is a French light helicopter originally manufactured by Sud Aviation and later Aérospatiale. It was the first production helicopter powered by a gas turbine engine instead of the heavier conventional piston powerplant.

Aérospatiale SA 315B Lama

The Aérospatiale SA 315B Lama is a French single-engined helicopter developed to meet hot and high operational requirements of the Indian Armed Forces. It combines the lighter Aérospatiale Alouette II airframe with Alouette III components and powerplant. The Lama possesses exceptional high altitude performance; on 21 June 1972, the type established a helicopter absolute altitude record of 12,442 m (40,814 ft), a record which remained unbroken as of September 2017.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited State-owned enterprise in India

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is an Indian state-owned aerospace and defence company headquartered in Bangalore, India. It is governed under the management of the Indian Ministry of Defence.

Similar to the Alouette II, in military service, it was used to perform missions such as aerial observation, photography, air-sea rescue, liaison, transport and training; it could also be armed with anti-tank missiles, anti-shipping torpedoes, and a fixed cannon. In a civilian capacity, the Alouette III was commonly used for casualty evacuation (often fitted with a pair of external stretcher panniers), crop-spraying, personnel transportation, and for carrying external loads. By the 2010s, many operators were in the process of drawing down their fleets and replacing them with more modern types; the French military intend to replace their Alouette IIIs with the newly-developed Airbus Helicopters H160. [2]

Air-sea rescue coordinated search and rescue (SAR) of the survivors of emergency water landings as well as people who have survived the loss of their seagoing vesse

Air-sea rescue is the coordinated search and rescue (SAR) of the survivors of emergency water landings as well as people who have survived the loss of their seagoing vessel. ASR can involve a wide variety of resources including seaplanes, helicopters, submarines, rescue boats and ships. Specialized equipment and techniques have been developed. Military and civilian units can perform air-sea rescue.

Airbus Helicopters H160

The Airbus Helicopters H160 is a medium utility helicopter being developed by Airbus Helicopters. Formally launched at Heli-Expo in Orlando, Florida on 3 March 2015, it is intended to replace the AS365 and EC155 models in the firm's lineup. In June 2015, the first test flight took place; the first customer deliveries were expected in 2018 but have slipped to 2019.



The Alouette III has its origins with an earlier helicopter design by French aircraft manufacturer Sud-Est, the SE 3120 Alouette, which, while breaking several helicopter speed and distance records in July 1953, was deemed to have been too complex to be realistic commercial product. [3] [4] Having received financial backing from the French government, which had taken an official interest in the venture, the earlier design was used as a starting point for a new rotorcraft that would harness the newly developed turboshaft engine; only a few years prior, Joseph Szydlowski, the founder of Turbomeca, had successfully managed to develop the Artouste, a 260 hp (190 kW) single shaft turbine engine derived from his Orédon turbine engine. This engine was combined with the revised design to quickly produce a new helicopter, initially known as the SE 3130 Alouette II. [3] [5] [6]

SNCASE aircraft manufacturer

SNCASE or Sud-Est was a French aircraft manufacturer. The company was formed on February 1, 1937, by the nationalization and merger of Lioré et Olivier, Potez, CAMS, Romano and SPCA.

Turboshaft turbine engine optimized to produce shaft power

A turboshaft engine is a form of gas turbine that is optimized to produce shaft power rather than jet thrust.

Joseph Szydlowski, was a Polish-Israeli aircraft engine designer who founded Turbomeca in France.

During April 1956, the first production Alouette II was completed, becoming the first production turbine-powered helicopter in the world. [3] The innovative light helicopter, soon broke several world records and became a commercial success. [7] [8] As a result of the huge demand for the Alouette II, manufacturer Aérospatiale took a great interest in the development of derivatives, as well as the more general ambition of embarking on further advancement in the field of rotorcraft. [9]

In accordance with these goals, the company decided to commit itself to a new development programme with the aim of developing a more powerful helicopter that would be capable of accommodating up to 7 seats or a pair of stretchers. The design team was managed by French aerospace engineer René Mouille. [9] [10] [11] The design produced, which was initially designated as the SE 3160, featured several improvements over the Alouette II; efforts were made to provide for a higher level of external visibility for the pilot as well as for greater aerodynamic efficiency via the adoption of a highly streamlined exterior. [9]

Stretcher equipment for moving patients in need of medical care

A stretcher, litter, or pram is an apparatus used for moving patients who require medical care. A basic type must be carried by two or more people. A wheeled stretcher is often equipped with variable height frames, wheels, tracks, or skids. In American English, a wheeled stretcher is referred to as a gurney.

Aerospace engineering

Aerospace engineering is the primary field of engineering concerned with the development of aircraft and spacecraft. It has two major and overlapping branches: aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering. Avionics engineering is similar, but deals with the electronics side of aerospace engineering.

René Mouille was a French engineer, and designer of many of France's most well-known and important helicopters, widely flown by many air forces around the world.

Into flight

Cockpit and flying controls of an Alouette III Alouette3 cockpit1.jpg
Cockpit and flying controls of an Alouette III

On 28 February 1959, the first prototype SE 3160 performed its maiden flight, piloted by French aviator Jean Boulet. [9] [10] Shortly thereafter, the SE 3160 would become more commonly known as the Alouette III. During its flight test programme, the prototype demonstrated its high altitude capabilities on several occasions; in June 1959, it landed at an altitude of over 4,000 meters in the Mont Blanc mountain range and, during October 1960, it was able to achieve the same feat at an altitude in excess of 6,000 meters in the Himalayas. During these attempts, it was flown by Jean Boulet, who was accompanied by a pair of passengers and 250 kg of equipment. [9]

During 1961, the initial model of the type, designated as the SA 316A (SE 3160), entered serial production. [9] On 15 December 1961, the Alouette III received its airworthiness certificate, clearing it to enter operational service. Despite an order placed by the French Army for an initial batch of 50 Alouette IIIs during June 1961, the first two customers of the rotorcraft were in fact export sales, having been sold outside of France. [9] The Alouette III was specifically designed to fly at high altitudes, as such, it quickly earned a reputation for its favourable characteristics during rescue operations. According to its manufacturer, it was the first helicopter to present an effective multi-mission capability and performance to match with its diverse mission range in both civil or military circles. [9]

The SA 316A model continued to be produced until 1968, when it was replaced by the refined SA 316B model. [9] A key feature of the rotorcraft is its gas turbine engine; while the original variant had been powered by the same Artouste engine of the Alouette II, it was substantially more powerful, being originally rated to produce 880 horsepower, but intentionally de-rated to generate 550 horsepower in service. The more powerful Turbomeca Astazou engine would be adopted on the later models; on 10 July 1967, the first Alouette III to be powered by the Astazou engine performed its first flight. [9] During 1979, the last and 1,437th Alouette III departed from the company's assembly line in Marignane, France, after which the main production line was closed down as a consequence of diminishing demand for the type. During 1985, the final Alouette III was delivered. [9]

Overseas production

Despite the closure of Aérospatiale 's own production line, the event was not the end of the type's manufacturing activity. Over 500 Alouette IIIs are recorded as having been manufactured under licence abroad in several countries, such as Romania, India, and Switzerland. [9] Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) obtained a licence to construct the Alouette III, which was known locally as the HAL Chetak, at their own production facilities in India. [9] In excess of 300 units were built by HAL; the company has continued to independently update and indigence the helicopter over the decades. A modernised variant of the Chetak has remained production, though at a diminished volume, into the 21st century. Various versions of the Alouette III were also either licence-built or otherwise assembled by IAR in Romania (as the IAR 316), F+W Emmen (de) in Switzerland, and by Fokker and Lichtwerk in the Netherlands. [9] [12]

By the 2010s, the majority of Alouette III operators were in the process of winding down or entirely retiring their fleets. [2] During 2017, the French Navy observed that it was costing the service around 13,000 Euros per flight hour to operate a single Alouette III, which it claims was in excess of double the equivalent costs of a modern-day rotorcraft in its class; it attributed this high running cost as being a natural side effect of their fleet's advanced age and an overall shortage of spare parts for the type, which has in turn been caused by the mass production of the Alouette III having been terminated three decades earlier. Furthermore, retirement has also been motived by a lack of modern features that would be present upon contemporary helicopters, which is a natural consequence of the Alouette III having been originally developed during the 1950s. [2]

Operational history

Danish Navy Alouette III on HDMS Beskytteren in 1977 Alouette III pa Inspektionsskibet Beskytteren.jpg
Danish Navy Alouette III on HDMS Beskytteren in 1977


The Argentine Naval Aviation operated a total of 14 Alouette III helicopters. A single SA316B was on board the ARA General Belgrano when she was sunk by torpedoes fired by HMS Conqueror during the 1982 Falklands War between Argentina and the United Kingdom. A second Alouette III played an important role during the Argentine Invasion of South Georgia. On 2 December 2010, the last example was retired at a ceremony held at BAN Comandante Espora, Bahía Blanca. [13] [14]


Between April 1964 and 1967, a small batch of Alouette IIIs were delivered from France in a disassembled state to Australia. Following their assembly, these were used by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) at the Woomera Rocket Range for light passenger transport purpose and to assist in the recovery of missile parts in the aftermath of test launches conducted at the Range. [15]


During 1977, the Chilean Navy ordered a batch of ten SA-319Bs. These rotorcraft, which were delivered by the middle of 1978, were only made operational just before the peak of the Beagle conflict between Chile and neighbouring Argentina. The Alouette III was the first real organic maritime ship borne tactical helicopter to be operated by Chile's naval forces; for this role, they were equipped with a radar and armed with rockets, guns, depth charges and a single light anti-submarine torpedo.[ citation needed ]

During the frantic training period in 1978 to meet wartime needs, a sole SA-319B was accidentally damaged, leading to it being placed in storage and subsequently repaired back to an airworthy condition years later. All ten Chilean Navy SA-319Bs were operational and in excellent conditions by the end of the 1980s, shortly after which they were replaced by larger SA532 Super Puma helicopters, and were bought by civilian operators.[ citation needed ]


Between 1962 and 1967, a total of 8 Alouette IIIs were delivered to the Royal Danish Navy. They were primarily tasked with SAR and reconnaissance in support of the navy's Arctic patrol ships. During 1982, they were replaced by a batch of British Westland Lynx. [16]


French Navy Alouette III on the frigate La Motte-Picquet Alouette Motte Piquet.jpg
French Navy Alouette III on the frigate La Motte-Picquet

During early 1960, the Alouette III officially entered squadron service with the French armed forces. In June 1971, having been suitably impressed by the type's performance so far, the French Army elected to order a force of 50 Alouette IIIs for their own purposes.[ citation needed ] Amongst the most noteworthy uses that France applied the type to was the first use of helicopter-based anti-tank missiles in the form of the SS.11 MCLOS wire-guided missile. [17]

During June 1960, an Alouette III carrying seven people successfully performed both take-offs and landings on Mont Blanc in the French Alps at an altitude of 4,810 meters (15,780 feet), an unprecedented altitude for such activities by a helicopter at the time. [18] The same helicopter again demonstrated the type's extraordinary performance in November 1960 by making take-offs and landings with a crew of two and a payload of 250 kg (551 lbs) in the Himalayas at an altitude of 6,004 meters (19,698 feet). [18]

During June 2004, the Alouette III was retired from the French Air Force after 32 years of successful service, having been entirely replaced by the newer twin-engined Eurocopter EC 355 Ecureuil 2. The French Army also withdrew the last of their examples during 2013 in favour of more modern rotorcraft. [2]

By 2017, the French Navy were still using the Alouette III in a reduced capacity, nonetheless being used to routinely conduct both Search and Rescue and logistics missions. [19] Since the 1970s, the type has gradually been supplanted by the larger Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin, and later on, by the specialised Eurocopter AS565 Panther as an anti-submarine warfare platform. The use of twin-engined rotorcraft in the maritime environment has become somewhat of an expected standard, one which the single-engined Alouette III cannot satisfy, putting the type at an obvious disadvantage. [2] During January 2018, it was announced that the French Navy would be replacing its remaining Alouette IIIs with rented Aérospatiale SA 330 Pumas as a stop-gap measure; this decision was reportedly taken due to its increasing unreliability, rapidly inflating operating costs, and the sheer age of the fleet. [2] [20]


An Irish Air Corps Alouette III, 2011 195, Baldonnel 2011 (8030721401).jpg
An Irish Air Corps Alouette III, 2011

During 1963, the first pair of Alouette IIIs were delivered to the Irish Air Corps; a third rotocraft arrived in 1964 and a batch of five further aircraft were delivered between 1972 and 1974. The service ultimately operated a total of eight Alouette IIIs between 1963 and 2007; throughout much of this period, they were the only helicopters operated by the Corps. [ citation needed ]

On 21 September 2007, the Alouette III was formally retired from the Irish Air Corps during a ceremony held at Baldonnel Aerodrome. During 44 years of successful service, the Irish Alouette III fleet amassed over 77,000 flying hours. As well as routine military missions, the aircraft undertook some 1,717 search-and-rescue missions, saving 542 lives and flew a further 2,882 air ambulance flights. The oldest of the Alouettes, 195, is kept in 'rotors running' condition for the Air Corps Museum. [21]


Indian Navy Chetak during IFR 2016 Indian Navy Chetak During IFR 2016.jpg
Indian Navy Chetak during IFR 2016

Under a licensing arrangement between Aérospatiale and Indian aircraft manfucturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the Alouette III has been built under licence by HAL in India. Known locally under the designation HAL Chetak, in excess of 300 rotorcraft have been manufactured to date; the majority of these were acquired for military purposes with the Indian Armed Forces, who have used them to perform various mission roles, including training, transport, CASEVAC (casualty evacuation), communications and liaison roles. [22] By 2017, the Chetak was reportedly serving as the most widely used IAF helicopter for training, light utility and light attack roles. [23]

During 1986, the Indian Government constituted the Army's Aviation Corps; consequently, the majority of Chetaks previously operated by AOP Squadrons were transferred from the Indian Air Force to the Indian Army on 1 November 1986. The Air Force has continued to fly a force of armed Chetaks in the anti-tank role as well as for CASEVAC missions and general duties. During the 2010s, the Chetak is being gradually replaced by the newer HAL Dhruv in the armed forces. [22] An option to re-engine the HAL Chetak with the Turbomeca TM 333-2B engine, which would better facilitate high-altitude operations in the Himalayas was considered, but ultimately not pursued.[ citation needed ]

In addition to producing the type for Indian customers, HAL has also achieved some export sales of Chetak helicopters to several nations, including Namibia and Suriname. [24] [25] India has also opted to donate several secondhand Chetak helicopters to other countries, such as neighbouring Nepal. [26] As of 2017, the Indian Navy has been reportedly recognised the necessity of procuring a replacement for the type. [27]


During the 1960s, Pakistan purchased a fleet of 35 Alouette III helicopters to equip the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). These saw active combat during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, in which the type was mainly used for liaison and VIP-transport missions. A pair of PAF Alouette IIIs were recorded as having been shot down during the conflict. [28] In 2010, it was announced that Switzerland had come to an agreement with Pakistan for a number of ex-Swiss Alouette IIIs to be donated to the PAF; however, the terms of this agreement restricts their usage to performing search and rescue and disaster relief operations. [29]


Portuguese paratroopers jump from an Alouette III in an air assault operation in Angola in the early 1960s. AssaltonaMatadaSanga....jpg
Portuguese paratroopers jump from an Alouette III in an air assault operation in Angola in the early 1960s.

Portugal was the first country to use the Alouette III in combat. In 1963, during the Overseas Wars in Angola, Mozambique and Portuguese Guinea, Portugal began using Alouette IIIs in combat, mainly in air assault and medevac operations, where it proved its qualities. Besides the basic transport version (code named canibal , plural canibais), Portugal used a special version of the Alouette III with a MG 151 20 mm autocannon mounted in the rear in order to fire from the left side door; it was designated helicanhão (heli-cannon) and code named lobo mau (big bad wolf).

In the Overseas Wars, the Portuguese usually launched air assaults with groups of six or seven Alouette III: five or six canibais – each usually carrying five paratroopers or commandos – and a lobo mau heli-cannon. The Portuguese practice was for the troops to jump from the canibais when the helicopters were hovering two-three meters above the ground – famous images of these disembarking troops became an iconic image of the war. The landing of the troops was covered by the lobo mau. While the troops performed the ground assault, the canibais moved away from the combat zone, while the lobo mau stayed to provide fire support, destroying enemy resistance and concentration points with the fire from its 20 mm autocannon. Once the ground combat had finished, the canibais returned; firstly to collect the wounded, then the rest of the troops.

At present, the Portuguese Air Force maintains a number of Alouette IIIs in service, mainly for training and SAR. They also equip the aerobatic team Rotores de Portugal .


The nation of Rhodesia emerged as a prolific user of both the Alouette II and its enlarged sibling, the Alouette III. [30] Early operations were flown with an emphasis on its use by the Rhodesian Army and British South Africa Police, including paramilitary and aerial reconnaissance operations. Throughout the 1960s, the type progressively spread into additional roles, including aerial supply, casualty evacuation, communications relays, and troop-transports. [31] Rhodesian aerial operations would typically involve flying under relatively high and hot conditions, which reduced the efficiency of aircraft in general; however, the Alouette II proved to be both hardy and relatively resistant to battle damage. [32] In order to extend the inadequate range of the type, fuel caches were strategically deployed across the country to be used for refuelling purposes. [31]

A Rhodesian Alouette III hovering with an underslung cargo, August 1962 RhodesianAlouette.jpg
A Rhodesian Alouette III hovering with an underslung cargo, August 1962

At its peak, No. 7 Squadron of the Rhodesian Air Force operated a force of 34 Allouette IIIs, which would normally operate in conjunction with a smaller number of Allouette IIs. They played a major part in the Rhodesian Forces' Fireforce doctrine, in which they would rapidly deploy ground troops, function as aerial observation and command posts, and provide mobile fire support as armed gunships. [33] In order to improve performance, Rhodesia's Alouette fleet was subject to extensive modifications during its service life, including changes to their refueling apparatus, gun sights, and cabin fittings, along with the installation of additional armouring and armaments. [34]

Over time, the Rhodesian Security Forces developed an innovative deployment tactic of rapidly encircling and enveloping enemies, known as the Fireforce, for which the Alouette II served as a core component. [30] The quick-reaction Fireforce battalions were typically centered at Centenary and Mount Darwin; however, an deliberate emphasis was placed on locating both rotorcraft and troops as close to a current or anticipated theatre of operations as would be feasibly possible. [35]

South Africa

A flight of four Alouette IIIs performing an aerobatic display Alouette III at Harvard 50 b.jpg
A flight of four Alouette IIIs performing an aerobatic display

The Alouette III served for over 44 years in the South African Air Force (SAAF); it is believed that 121 examples were acquired between 1962 and 1975 for the service from France. [36] During 1966, by which point the SAAF had built up a fleet of around 50 Alouette IIIs already, it was decided to dispatch several of the type to support ground troops stationed in South West Africa attempting to contain the emerging South West African People's Organisation (SWAPO); this would be the beginnings of what would become the lengthy South African Border War. [36] The type saw considerable action during the conflict; while initially used for more passive operations such as aerial reconnaissance, from July 1967 onwards, Alouette III participated in active combat missions as well. It was frequently employed as a support platform for performing South African counterstrike operations inside neighbouring Namibia and Angola. [37] Reportedly, a total of eight Alouette IIIs had been listed as having been lost over the conflict zone by the end of the war. [36]

By 1990, there were a total of 70 Alouette III helicopters remaining in active service. [36] Throughout the course of its service life with the SAAF, the Alouette III fleet was recorded as having accumulated in excess of 346,000 flight hours. During June 2006, the last Alouette III was officially withdrawn from SAAF service at a ceremony held at AFB Swartkop, near Pretoria. [37]

During January 2013, reports emerged that South African defense officials were in the process of planning to transfer some of the retired fleet, along with spare parts and associated support equipment, to the Zimbabwean Air Force; South African newspaper Mail & Guardian claimed that the rotorcraft could be used to sway politics in the nation in favour of the incumbent President, Robert Mugabe. [38] However, during February 2013, an interim court order was issued which blocked the proposed sale of South African Alouette IIIs to Zimbabwe. [39] In February 2014, reports emerged that South Africa now intended to sell part of the ex-SAAF fleet to Namibia instead. [40]


During 1986, the South American country of Suriname purchased a pair of secondhand Alouette III helicopters from Portugal. During 1999, the Surinam Air Force opted to retire and sell off its Alouette III helicopters. In their place, three newly-built HAL Chetaks (an Indian version of the Alouette IIIs) were delivered to the Suriname Air Force on 13 March 2015, while the pilots and technicians of the Surinam Air Force underwent training on the type in Bangalore, India for some time. [41] [42] [43]


Formation flight of 10 Alouette IIIs, 2010 SA 319 Alouette III (Switzerland) (4831664942).jpg
Formation flight of 10 Alouette IIIs, 2010

During 1964, the Swiss Air Force opted to procure a batch of nine Alouette III rotorcraft directly from Aérospatiale; further orders included one placed in 1966 for 15 more. In addition, a total of 60 SA-316Bs (often referred to as the F+W Alouette IIIS) were licence-assembled by F+W Emmen  [ fr ; de ] in Switzerland.[ citation needed ]

During 2004, the Swiss Armed Forces announced the expected withdrawal of the Alouette III from front-line service would commence by 2006 and that it was to be entirely retired by 2010; they have been replaced by a smaller force of 20 new-built Eurocopter EC635s. Since their retirement, at least 10 ex-Swiss Alouettes have been gifted to Pakistan to perform search and rescue operations. [29]



Current military operators

Austrian Alouette III over the Alps Sud SE-3160 Alouette III, Austria - Air Force AN0518202.jpg
Austrian Alouette III over the Alps
Flag of Angola.svg  Angola
Flag of Austria.svg  Austria
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium
Flag of Bolivia.svg  Bolivia
Flag of Burundi.svg  Burundi
Flag of Chad.svg  Chad
Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg  Democratic Republic of the Congo
Flag of Ethiopia.svg  Ethiopia
Flag of France.svg  France
Flag of Gabon.svg  Gabon
HAL Chetak from Indian Navy's INS Rana. Indian Navy Chetak flying (cropped).jpg
HAL Chetak from Indian Navy's INS Rana.
Flag of Greece.svg  Greece
Flag of India.svg  India
Flag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia
Flag of Malta.svg  Malta
Flag of Mauritius.svg  Mauritius
Flag of Namibia.svg  Namibia
Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan
Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal
Flag of South Korea.svg  South Korea
An Alouette III used by the Air Wing of the Armed Forces of Malta during a flying display. Armed Forces of Malta Air Wing Aerospatiale SA-316B Alouette III Zammit-1.jpg
An Alouette III used by the Air Wing of the Armed Forces of Malta during a flying display.
Flag of Suriname.svg  Suriname
Flag of Eswatini.svg  Swaziland
Flag of Tunisia.svg  Tunisia
Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe

Former military operators

Flag of Abu Dhabi.svg  Abu Dhabi

Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina
Flag of Biafra.svg  Biafra
Flag of Bangladesh.svg  Bangladesh
Flag of Bophuthatswana.svg  Bophuthatswana
Flag of Myanmar.svg  Burma
Flag of Chile.svg  Chile
Portuguese Rotores de Portugal aerobatic team's Alouette III helicopter FAP 19401 (4).JPG
Portuguese Rotores de Portugal aerobatic team's Alouette III helicopter
Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark
Flag of the Dominican Republic.svg  Dominican Republic
Flag of Ecuador.svg  Ecuador
Flag of El Salvador.svg  El Salvador
Flag of France.svg  France
Flag of Ghana.svg  Ghana
Flag of Guinea.svg  Guinea
Flag of Guinea-Bissau.svg  Guinea-Bissau
Circa 1980, a Royal Danish Navy's Alouette III on a Hvidbjornen-class inspection vessel. RDN Alouette III.jpg
Circa 1980, a Royal Danish Navy's Alouette III on a Hvidbjørnen-class inspection vessel.
Flag of Hong Kong 1959.svg  Hong Kong
Flag of Iraq.svg  Iraq
Flag of Ireland.svg  Ireland
Flag of Jordan.svg  Jordan
Flag of Lebanon.svg  Lebanon
Flag of Libya.svg  Libya
Flag of Madagascar.svg  Madagascar
Flag of Malawi.svg  Malawi
Irish Air Corps SA-316B Alouette III, 212 from 3 Operations Wing at RNAS Yeovilton in July 2006 Aerospatiale SA 316B at RNAS Yeovilton.jpg
Irish Air Corps SA-316B Alouette III, 212 from 3 Operations Wing at RNAS Yeovilton in July 2006
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico
Flag of Morocco.svg  Morocco
Flag of Mozambique.svg  Mozambique
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands
Flag of Nicaragua.svg  Nicaragua
Flag of Peru.svg  Peru
Flag of Rhodesia (1968-1979).svg  Rhodesia
Flag of Rwanda.svg  Rwanda
An Alouette III (SA316B) of the Royal Netherlands Air Force RNAF AS319 (framed).jpg
An Alouette III (SA316B) of the Royal Netherlands Air Force
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia
Flag of the Seychelles.svg  Seychelles
Flag of Singapore.svg  Singapore
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa
Flag of South Vietnam.svg  South Vietnam
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain
Flag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland
Flag of Upper Volta.svg  Upper Volta
Aerospatiale SA 316 Alouette III of the Swiss Air Force Alouette ag1.JPG
Aérospatiale SA 316 Alouette III of the Swiss Air Force
Flag of Venezuela.svg  Venezuela
Flag of Serbia and Montenegro (1992-2006).svg  FR Yugoslavia
Flag of Zaire.svg  Zaire

Specifications (SA 316B)

Aerospatiale Alouette III orthographical image.svg

Data from Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1976–77, [97] A Compendium of Armaments and Military Hardware [98]

General characteristics


See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists

Related Research Articles

Suriname National Army national army of the Republic of Suriname

After the creation of the Statute of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Royal Netherlands Army was entrusted with the defence of Suriname, while the defence of the Netherlands Antilles was the responsibility of the Royal Netherlands Navy. The army set up a separate Troepenmacht in Suriname. Upon independence in 1975, this force was turned into the Surinaamse Krijgsmacht (SKM):, Surinamese Armed Forces. On February 25, 1980, a group of 15 non-commissioned officers and one junior SKM officer, under the leadership of sergeant major Dési Bouterse, staged a coup d'état and overthrew the Government. Subsequently, the SKM was rebranded as Nationaal Leger (NL), National Army.

Aérospatiale Gazelle light helicopter family by Sud Aviation, later Aerospatiale

The Aérospatiale Gazelle is a French five-seat helicopter, commonly used for light transport, scouting and light attack duties. It is powered by a single Turbomeca Astazou turbine engine and was the first helicopter to feature a fenestron tail instead of a conventional tail rotor. It was designed by Sud Aviation, later Aérospatiale, and manufactured in France and the United Kingdom through a joint production agreement with Westland Aircraft. Further manufacturing under license was performed by SOKO in Yugoslavia and the Arab British Helicopter Company (ABHCO) in Egypt.

Denel Rooivalk attack helicopter family by Atlas Aircraft Corporation, later Denel Aviation

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.

Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin family of utility helicopters

The EurocopterAS365 Dauphin (Dolphin), also formerly known as the Aérospatiale SA 365 Dauphin 2, is a medium-weight multipurpose twin-engine helicopter produced by Airbus Helicopters. It was originally developed and manufactured by French firm Aérospatiale, which was merged into the multinational Eurocopter company during the 1990s. Since entering production in 1975, the type has been in continuous production for more than 40 years. The intended successor to the Dauphin is the Airbus Helicopters H160, which is yet to enter operational service as of March 2015.

Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma medium-lift helicopter family by Sud, later Eurocopter

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.

Eurocopter AS532 Cougar series of military medium-lift helicopters

The Eurocopter AS532 Cougar is a twin-engine, medium-weight, multipurpose helicopter developed by France. The AS532 is a development and upgrade of the Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma in its militarized form. Its civilian counterpart is the Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma. The AS532 has been further developed as the Eurocopter EC725.

Eurocopter AS565 Panther Series of military utility helicopters

The EurocopterAS565 Panther is the military version of the Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin medium-weight multi-purpose twin-engine helicopter. The Panther is used for a wide range of military roles, including combat assault, fire support, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, search and rescue, and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC).

Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma Medium-lift helicopter series by Aerospatiale, later Airbus Helicopters

The Airbus Helicopters H215 is a four-bladed, twin-engine, medium-size utility helicopter developed and marketed originally by Aérospatiale, later by Eurocopter and currently by Airbus Helicopters. It is a re-engined and more voluminous version of the original Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma. First flying in 1978, the Super Puma succeeded the SA 330 Puma as the main production model of the type in 1980. Since 1990, Super Pumas in military service have been marketed under the AS532 Cougar designation. In civilian service, a next generation successor to the AS 332 was introduced in 2004, the further-enlarged Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma.

Aérospatiale SA 321 Super Frelon heavy transport and naval helicopter series by Sud Aviation, later Aerospatiale

The AérospatialeSA 321 Super Frelon is a three-engined heavy transport helicopter produced by aerospace manufacturer Sud Aviation of France. It held the distinction of being the most powerful helicopter to be built in Europe at one point, as well as being the world's fastest helicopter.

IAR 316 light utility helicopter

The IAR 316 is a Romanian license-built Aérospatiale SA 316B Alouette III manufactured by Industria Aeronautică Română, or IAR.

MBB Bo 105 utility helicopter family by Bolkow, later Airbus Helicopters

The Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm Bo 105 is a light, twin-engine, multi-purpose helicopter developed by Bölkow of Ottobrunn, West Germany. It was the first light twin-engine helicopter in the world, and the first rotorcraft that could perform aerobatic maneuvers such as inverted loops. The Bo 105 features a revolutionary hingeless rotor system, at that time a pioneering innovation in helicopters when it was introduced into service in 1970. Production of the Bo 105 began at the then-recently merged Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB).

Cameroon Air Force Air warfare branch of Cameroons military

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.

Gabonese Air Force Aerial warfare branch of the Gabonese Armed Forces

The Gabonese Air Force is the official aerial warfare branch of the Armed Forces of Gabon.

Aérospatiale SA 360 Dauphin series of light utility helicopters

The Aérospatiale SA 360 Dauphin was a single-engine French utility helicopter developed as a replacement for Aérospatiale's Alouette III in the early 1970s and to fill a gap in the company's product line in the six to ten-seat helicopter category. However, as the new helicopter offered little advantage over its predecessor and thus limited market appeal, production of the SA 360 Dauphin was abandoned after only a few dozen of them had been built.

Djibouti Air Force Air warfare branch of Djiboutis military

The Djiboutian Air Force (DAF), is the Air Force of Djibouti. It was established as part of the Djibouti Armed Forces after the country obtained its independence on June 27, 1977. The first aircraft included three Nord N.2501 Noratlas transport aircraft, as well as a French Allouette II helicopter. The Djibouti Air Force is mandated with protecting Djibouti's airspace, and in assisting ground forces.

Suriname Air Force Air component of the national army of Suriname

The Suriname Air Force is the air component of the Military of Suriname. All aircraft of the Suriname Air Force undertake border patrols, utility transport, and search and rescue missions from Zorg en Hoop Airport, the Air Force's main base. Aircraft are occasionally transferred to other air bases in the nation, which include Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport, Major Fernandes Airfield, Albina Airstrip, and Moengo Airstrip. The head of the Suriname Air Force is the Commander of the Air Force, currently Lieutenant Colonel Marven van Huisduinen, who took over the role in March 2019 from former Commander Robert Kartodikromo. The Air Force is further split into several wings, including the Helicopter Wing, the current Commander of which being Captain John-Marc Arron.

Cashel South African Air Force Alouette crash

On 23 December 1975 an Aérospatiale Alouette III helicopter of the South African Air Force carrying a crew of two and four Rhodesian army officers crashed near Cashel in Rhodesia after it collided with a hawser cable whilst in-flight.



  1. Major foreign users of the Alouette III are Indian Air Force (300+ delivered), Portuguese Air Force (179 delivered) and South African Air Force (118 delivered). [1]


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