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Airbus Helicopters (Aerospatiale) SA 330 Puma

France (1969)
Picture of Airbus Helicopters (Aerospatiale) SA 330 Puma Medium Transport / Assault Helicopter
Picture of Airbus Helicopters (Aerospatiale) SA 330 Puma Medium Transport / Assault Helicopter Picture of Airbus Helicopters (Aerospatiale) SA 330 Puma Medium Transport / Assault Helicopter
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The SA 330 Puma helicopter has gone into operational service with no fewer than 40 military forces worldwide.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Airbus Helicopters (Aerospatiale) SA 330 Puma Medium Transport / Assault Helicopter.  Entry last updated on 6/22/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The Puma began life as a product of Sud Aviation designed to meet an French Army requirement for an all-weather, medium-lift, multi-purpose utility helicopter to replace the aging set of Sikorsky S-58 systems in French service. Additional requirements stipulated operation in day or night environments with potential operations of the type reaching virtually in any region of the world. Though originally designed and produced under the Sud Aviation banner (hence the "SA" in the model designation), ownership of the helicopter changed hands when Sud merged with SEREB and Nord Aviation becoming Aerospatiale.

Two prototypes were constructed under the designation of Alouette V (SA 330A) with the first one flying on April 15th, 1965 from Marignane. These designs were based in the Super Frelon helicopters though the SA 330 was modernized through-and-through right down to construction methods utilized. The prototypes were subsequently followed by 6 pre-production aircraft which were evaluated into the middle of 1968. Results proved the design to be sound, showcasing good speed and agility and proving to be reliable for a complex system of this type. Production of the now-designated SA 330B "Puma" officially began in September of that year to which some 697 total examples were eventually produced. The Puma officially entered operational service in 1970. Pumas went on to serve in no fewer than 40 air forces and armies worldwide - from Albania to Zaire - making it one of the most successful helicopter designs of all time.

As an aside, 1967 found the Royal Air Force (RAF) taking an interest in the French-based system as well and tabbed it for their own revamped needs resulting in an Aerospatiale-Westland joint production partnership. This joint venture would also produce the likes of the fabulous Lynx multi-role and Gazelle light helicopters of which both militaries would field in some number. For the RAF, the arrival of the Puma favorably brought about the end use for their Whirlwind and Belvedere series. British Pumas went under the designation of Puma HC.Mk 1.


Picture of the Airbus Helicopters (Aerospatiale) SA 330 Puma Medium Transport / Assault Helicopter
Picture of the Airbus Helicopters (Aerospatiale) SA 330 Puma Medium Transport / Assault Helicopter


At its core, the Puma is powered by twin Turbomeca Turmo IVC turboshaft engines developing 1,575 horsepower each powering a four-bladed main rotor and five-bladed tail rotor (the latter interestingly mounted to the starboard side of the tailfin). Distinctive to the Puma design is that the powerplants are mounted well forward of the cabin rooftop above the stout and contoured fuselage and exhaust at about the middle of the design. Performance figures include a never-exceed speed of 169 miles-per-hour, maximum speed of 159 miles-per-hour, a range of 360 miles and a service ceiling of 15,750 feet with a rate-of-climb nearing 1,400 feet-per-minute.

The forward section of the fuselage fitted the two-man cockpit along with heavy glazing offering up excellent views of the action forward, to the sides, above and below with the forward windshield made up of sloping panels. The fuselage also features windows for the crew cabin. A typical crew is three personnel made up of the pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer. A further 16 passengers can be brought aboard. Both pilots are afforded hinged automobile-style doors while large cabin doors span either fuselage side. The undercarriage is fully retractable and features a conventional arrangement of two main two-wheeled landing gears in lower-fuselage side sponsons and a single nose gear fitting two wheels. The empennage consists of a conventional elevated extension adorned with a single vertical tail fin and a single horizontal tail plane mounted to the port side. The five-bladed tail rotor is mounted to starboard.

As with most multi-role helicopter systems, armament for the Puma is optional, mission-specific and operator-specific. 7.62mm machine guns are the norm while 20mm cannons have also been fielded. In the cargo transport role, provisions were made for the use of an external load hook for underslung cargo carrying.

Notable versions of production Pumas include the initial French Army production SA 330B models, the SA 330C initial export models and the SA 330F initial civilian export production model. Others include the Westland-produced SA 330E for the Royal Air Force, the upgraded SA 330H for the French Army and the SA 330Z prototype sporting a Fenestron shrouded tail rotor. The South African firm Atlas Aircraft Corporation locally-produced the similar Oryx for their Air Force while IPTN of Indonesia did the same with their NAS 330J's. Westland jumped into the fray to offer the Puma HC.Mk 1 for the RAF, these being based on the SA 330E model series. Romania is the other foreign producer of the type, fielding it under its home-made IAR 330 guise produced by ICA.

Notable Puma operators have included the Royal Air Force, South Africa and Lebanon. Civilian-based operators reside in the United States, South Africa and Germany. The Puma was replaced on the Aerospatiale line by the much improved AS332 "Super Puma", this time falling under the Eurocopter product banner though similarly retaining the "AS" (for Aerospatiale) in the model designation.




Cockpit picture from the Airbus Helicopters (Aerospatiale) SA 330 Puma Medium Transport / Assault Helicopter
Airbus Helicopters (Aerospatiale) SA 330 Puma Cockpit Picture


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 200mph
Lo: 100mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (170mph).

    Graph average of 150 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Aerospatiale SA 330H Puma's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
697
697


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


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Origin: France
Year: 1969
Type: Medium Transport / Assault Helicopter
Manufacturer(s): Aerospatiale - France / Westland - UK
Production: 697
Status: Active, In-Service
Global Operators:
Albania; Argentina; Belgium; Brazil; Cambodia; Cameroon; Chile; Ivory Coast; Ecuador; Ethiopia; France; Gabon; Gambia; Germany (civilian); Guinea; Indonesia; Iran; Kenya; Kuwait; Lebanon; Malawi; Mexico; Morocco; Nepal; Nigeria; Pakistan; Philippines; Protugal; Romania; Slovenia; South Africa; Spain; Sudan; Togo; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; United States; Venezuela; Zaire
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Aerospatiale SA 330H Puma model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
3


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
59.55 ft


Meters
18.15 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
49.21 ft


Meters
15 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
16.86 ft


Meters
5.14 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
7,796 lb


Kilograms
3,536 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
15,432 lb


Kilograms
7,000 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x Turbomeca Turmo IVC turboshaft engines generating 1,575shp each and driving main blade and tail blade rotors.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
170 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
273 kph


Knots
147 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
360 mi


Kilometers
580 km


Nautical Miles
313 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
15,748 ft


Meters
4,800 m


Miles
2.98 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
1,400 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
427 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Armament - Hardpoints (0):

Mission-specific depending on role and operator. May include machine guns and cannons as needed.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• Alouette IV - Initial Series Designation
• SA 330A - Base Series Designation initially produced by Sud Aviation; eight prototypes.
• SA 330B Initial Production Example Models
• SA 330Ba - Designation for SA 330H model when in French service.
• SA 330C Initial Export Variant Model
• SA 330E - Basis of HC.Mk 1 RAF model produced by Westland for trials program.
• SA 330F - Export Variant
• SA 330G - Fitted with Turmo IVC turboshaft engines; production now by Aerospatiale.
• SA 330H - Militarized Variant similar to the SA 330G; some standardized from SA 330F models.
• SA 330J - Produced with new blade construction; based overall on SA 300G model series; civilian equivalent of "L" model.
• SA 330L - Produced with new blade construction; based overall on SA 330H model series; defintive military Puma.
• SA 330R - Stretched Fuselage Variant of which only one produced; led to development of SA 332 Super Puma model series.
• SA 330S - Portugal model featuring Makila 1 turboshaft engines and composite blades.
• SA 330Z - Fitted with fenestron tail rotor assembly; developmental aircraft for SA 360 "Dauphin".
• IAR 330L - Romanian-produced Puma based on SA 330L model series; transport variant and gunship variant (fitted with 20mm cannon gunpods and side-mounted launch rails for rockets and missiles).
• IAR SOCAT Puma - Nose-mounted FLIR system; 20mm turret cannon; anti-tank missile mounts; based on IAR 330L model series; produced in conjunction with Israeli Elbit corporation.
• SA 332 "Super Puma" First flew in 1978; fitted with de-icing equipment, more powerful engines, single-wheel landing gear systems and new composite main rotor blades.
• SA 360 "Dauphin"
• HC.Mk 1 - Based on SA 330E model but in RAF service; built under license by Westland; 48 such models produced at Yeovil.
• Atlas Oryx - South African-produced indigenous model based on SA 330.
• NSA-330 - Indonesian license-produced Puma based on the SA 330L model.