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Aerospatiale Alouette III

Light Multirole Helicopter

Despite its Cold War-era roots, the Aerospatiale Alouette III remains a multi-purpose light helicopter design.
Authored By: JR Potts, AUS 173d AB | Edited: 7/9/2019
National Flag Graphic


Year: 1960
Status: Active, In-Service
Manufacturer(s): Aerospatiale - France
Production: 2,100
Capabilities: Ground Attack; Close-Air Support (CAS); Reconnaissance (RECCE);
Crew: 2
Length: 42.13 ft (12.84 m)
Width: 36.15 ft (11.02 m)
Height: 9.84 ft (3 m)
Weight (Empty): 2,474 lb (1,122 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 4,850 lb (2,200 kg)
Power: 1 x Turbomeca Artouste IIIB turboshaft engine developing 570 horsepower while driving the main three-blade rotor and a three-blade tail system.
Speed: 130 mph (210 kph; 113 kts)
Ceiling: 7,379 feet (2,249 m; 1.4 miles)
Range: 298 miles (480 km; 259 nm)
Rate-of-Climb: 885 ft/min (270 m/min)
Operators: Albania; Angola; Argentina; Australia; Austria; Bangladesh; Belgium; Biafra; Bolivia; Burkina Faso; Burma; Burundi; Cameroon; Chad; Chile; Republic of the Congo; Ivory Coast; Denmark; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; El Salvador; Equatorial New Guinea; Ethiopia; France; Gabon; Ghana; Greece; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Hong Kong; India; Indonesia; Iran; Iraq; Ireland; Israel; Jordan; Laos; Lebanon; Libya; Madagascar; Malawi; Malaysia; Malta; Mexico; Morocco; Mozambique; Nepal; Netherlands; Nicaragua; Pakistan; China; Peru; Portugal; Rhodesia; Romania; Rwanda; Saudi Arabia; Seychelles; Singapore; South Africa; South Korea; South Vietnam; Spain; Sri Lanka; Suriname; Swaziland; Switzerland; Tunisia; United Arab Emirates; Upper Volta; Venezuela; Yugoslavia; Zaire; Zambia; Zimbabwe; Chile; United States
The Aerospatiale Alouette III, is French for Skylark having a single-engine and to be used as a light utility helicopter and was developed by Sud Aviation and manufactured by Aerospatiale of France. The first version of the Alouette III, the SE 3160 prototype flew in 1959. Production of the SA 316A (SE 3160) began in 1960 and remained in production until 1968. It was replaced by the SA 316BThe Alouette III is the successor to the Alouette II, with a larger engine and having more seating.

The Turbomeca Artouste IIIB turboshaft engine was the original variant produced, the Alouette III is recognized for its mountain rescue and adaptability for land and ship based applications. The Argentine Navy purchased 14 helicopters, 3 of the original design SE3160, 7 with the more powerful engine and strength upgrades in the SA316B and 4 machines of the SA319B with more power than the other two versions.

The Alouette III entered in service with the French Armed forces in 1960. Many were used by the Foreign Legion from 1964-1967. Three machines were delivered from France for local assembly in Australia, and were used by Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

Pakistan purchased 35 machines and used them in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. Two planes of the PAF were shot down in the war, and the Portuguese Colonial War, during 60's and 70's used large numbers of helos in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea, where it proved its qualities for use in dusty and hot flying conditions. One SA316B purchased by Argentina was on board the ARA General Belgrano when she was sunk by the HMS Conqueror S48 during the Falklands War with Great Britain in 1982.

The SA 316B and the SA 319B both remained in series production up to the early 1980s, when the main production line in France was closed down. However, HAL of India continues to licence-build Alouette IIIs as the Chetak. In 2004, most of the Alouette III was retired from the French Air Force after 32 years of successful service. It will be replaced by the Eurocopter EC 355 Ecureuil 2. In the same year, the Swiss Armed Forces announced the retirement of the Alouette III, from the front line by 2006, and entirely by 2010. Venezuelan Air forces retired their Alouette IIIs in the late 90s. Currently many units are still in use in Africa with parts available from India.

Program Updates

August 2018 - The Austrian government has approved plans for the Austrian Air Force to replace its aging fleet of Alouette III light utility helicopters. The fleet is scheduled for retirement before the end of 2022.


Mission specific armament can include any of the following:

1 x 7.62mm machine gun (mounted on tripod in right-side doorway).
1 x 20mm cannon fixed to left-side of fuselage.
2 or 4 x AS.11 anti-tank missiles.
2 x Mk.44 Torpedoes.

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft anti-tank guided missile
Graphical image of an aircraft aerial torpedo

Variants / Models

• SE 3160 Alouette III - First Designation Model
• SA 316A Alouette III - Initial Production Designation; Features Turbomeca powerplant.
• SA 316B Alouette III - Improved transmission, increased takeoff weight.
• SA 319 Alouette III Atazou - Features Turbomeca Astazou turboshaft engine generating 600shp.
• IAR 316 - Locally-produced (under license) Romanian Air Force model based on the SA 316B.
• IAR-317 "Airfox" - Romanian-produced attack helicopter prototype based on Alouette III.
• "Chetak" - Indian production version of the SA 316B model.
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