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SE.3160 Alouette III
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SA.341/342 Gazelle
Eurocopter AS350 B
19302 Aérospatiale SE.3160 Alouette III c/n 1573 - Portuguese Air Force "Rotores de Portugal" - Gilze-Rijen AFB in Holland - 12 September 2014 Gilze-Rijen AFB (EHGR)

The Aérospatiale SA.316B Alouette III is a single-engined utility helicopter that can accommodate up to 7 passengers. The Alouette III was derived from the Alouette II featuring a more powerful turboshaft and enlarged cabin. Development of the Sud-Est SE-3160 Alouette III started in the late 50s under Sud-Aviation banner. The first of two prototypes, Sud-Aviation SE-3160 c/n 001 F-ZWVQ powered by one 550 hp Turboméca Artouste IIIB turboshaft, was flown on 28 February 1959. Four pre-production machines followed the prototypes, and the first production helicopter of this type, SE-3160 c/n 1001, was delivered as UB-6101 to Burmese Air Force on 25 July 1961. In the military role, the Alouette III was used either to transport six fully equipped troops or as an assault helicopter. Certification was achieved on 12 December 1961. The initial SE-3160 Alouette III remained in production until 1969, when it was replaced by the improved SA-316B Alouette III. The Alouette III was developed over the years and remained in production until 1985. Over 1450 helicopters of the different versions of the Alouette III were built, including production under licence in India, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Romania and Switzerland.

On 1 January 1970, Sud-Aviation was merged with a number of other French aerospace companies to form the SNIAS (Société Nationale Industrielle Aérospatiale). From 1984, SNIAS operated under the name of Aérospatiale. The helicopter divisions of MBB from Germany and Aerospatiale from France merged in January 1992 to form the Eurocopter Group. As a result of the merger between the Eurocopter parents Aérospatiale-Matra; DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (DASA) and Construcciones Aeronàuticas Sociedad Anonima (CASA) in July 2000, the Eurocopter group became a division of the new formed EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space company). Taking off into 2014, EADS was rebranded as "Airbus Group". Uniting all its activities under a single brand, its helicopter division Eurocopter was rebranded as Airbus Helicopters on 8 January 2014.

In 1969, Sud-Est SE.3160 Alouette III s/n 1573 entered service as 9302 with the Portugues Air Force (Força Aérea Portuguesa). In August 1994, the Alouette III was re-registered 19302 in service with Grupo Operational 31 - Esquadra 552 "Zangões" of the Portugues Air Force. In service with the Portugues Air Force, Alouette III 19302 was operated for the UN in East Timor in 2001. When seen at Gilze-Rijen Air Base in the Netherlands on 12 September 2014, Alouette III 19302 was in service with Esquadra 552 and painted in the colors of the "Rotores de Portugal" display team. This diplay team was formed in April 1979 by order of the Air Force Chief of Staff and made its debut during an air show at Sintra Air Base in Portugal. Over the years the display team was several times disbanded and reformed again. In 2010, display team "Rotores de Portugal" entered its fifth decade of performing the Alouette III helicopters in air shows, etc.,since its first performance at Sintra Air Base in 1979. On 16 June 2020, the Força Aerea Portuguesa officially retired the SE.3160 Alouette III helicopter after 57 years of service.

page last updated 25-02-2021
Copyright © Jack Wolbrink, Emmen, the Netherlands

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