Military Factory logo

Aerospatiale Gazelle Lightweight Multi-Role Helicopter

The lightweight, multi-purpose French Aerospatiale Gazelle helicopter eventually found homes in both the domestic and export markets.

 Updated: 7/6/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

A popular light reconnaissance and attack helicopter for export order, the Aerospatiale Gazelle systems are a common site all over the world. Operating in the multirole mode, the system has the capabilities to undergo duties as a reconnaissance, training, anti-tank or utility helicopter as needed. Setting many standards for future Aerospatialle helicopter designs, the Gazelle series lived up to expectations to spawn multiple variant formats.

The Gazelle was designed as the successor and ultimate replacement of the Aerospatiale Alouette II series, also seeing quite the commercial export successes in the same roles. The Gazelle family was born from a joint production effort involving Westland (a British helo firm) and Sud Aviation (the French-based helo aviation firm). From there, varying models of mission-specific types were produced as needed for the British Army, Royal Navy and French Army among other civilian and export entities.

The base Gazelle design incorporated a rigid main rotor head along with composite rotor blades. Besides the excellent visibility all-glass canopy, the most identifiable feature in the series is the shrouded tail fan rotor, which in itself was a revolutionary piece of engineering for helicopter usage.

The French SA 342M model series is capable of arming itself with HOT anti-armor missiles for the anti-tank role. Other Gazelles, known as SA 342M ATAMs, were also converted to fire the Mistral air-to-air missiles to counter any aircraft threats. Over forty countries bought into the lightweight export-friendly helicopter series, ensuring its use would continue for many decades to come. Though far from being counted on as the newer more modern combat helicopters, the Gazelle series still finds a role to play on the battlefield.

Images Gallery


SA 342L Gazelle Technical Specifications

Service Year: 1973
Type: Lightweight Multi-Role Helicopter
National Origin: France
Manufacturer(s): Aerospatiale - France / Westand - Britain
Production Total: 1,775

Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 2
Overall Length: 31.27 feet (9.53 meters)
Overall Width: 0.00 feet (0.00 meters)
Overall Height: 10.43 feet (3.18 meters)

Weight (Empty): 2,202 lb (999 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 4,409 lb (2,000 kg)

Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

Propulsion: 1 x Turbomeca XIVM turboshaft engine developing 590 horsepower while driving three blade main rotor and Fenestron-shrouded tail rotor.

Maximum Speed: 165 mph (265 kph; 143 knots)
Maximum Range: 441 miles (710 km)
Service Ceiling: 1,532 feet (467 meters; 0.29 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 2,400 feet-per-minute (732 m/min)

Armament / Mission Payload

Mission specific armament includes:

2 x Rocket Pods
4 or 6 x HOT anti-tank missiles
Mistal air-to-air missiles
Reconnaissance Pods
2 x 7.62mm machine guns
1 x 20mm Giat Cannon (starboard side)
2 x Surface-to-Air Missiles of Various makes.

Global Operators / Customers

Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Cyprus, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Guinea, Iraq, Ireland, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Qatar, Senegal, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and Yugoslavia.

Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

SA 340-01 - Prototype Designation
SA 341 - Second Protoype Designation; Larger cabin; Composite blades.
SA 341B Gazelle AH.1 - Initial Production Models (British Army).
SA 341C Gazelle HT.2 - Initial Production Models (British Navy).
SA 341D Gazelle HT.3 - Trainer Variant
SA 341E Gazelle HCC.4 - Transport model for the Royal Air Force.
SA 341F - French Army Model
SA 341G - Civilian Variant
SA 341H - Military Export Model
SA 342J - Civilian Model
SA 342K - Military Export Model
SA 342L - Final Export Military Model
SA 342M - Final French Army Production Variant; Fitted with Astral AAMs.
Soko H-42 - Yugoslav-produced variant of SA 341H model.
Soko H-45 - Yugoslav-produced variant of the SA 342L model.
AH.Mk 1