The Alouette III is an enlarged development of the Alouette II series, and was Aerospatiale's most successful helicopter in terms of numbers built until the mid 1980s when surpassed by the Ecureuil.
Like the Alouette II, the Alouette III traces its development back to the Sud-Est SE-3120 Alouette piston powered prototypes, the first of which flew for the first time on July 31 1951. The largest member of the Alouette series, the III flew as the SE-3160 on February 28 1959. Compared with the Alouette II, the Alouette III is larger and seats seven, but in its initial form was also powered by the Turboméca Artouste turboshaft.
This initial SE-3160 Alouette III remained in production for almost a decade until 1969, when it was replaced by the improved SA-316B with strengthened transmission and a greater max takeoff weight, but the same Artouste III turboshaft.
Further development led to the SA-319 Alouette III Astazou, which as its name suggests is powered by a 450kW (600shp) Turboméca Astazou XIV turboshaft. The more powerful Astazou engine conferred better hot and high performance and improved fuel economy. The SA-319 entered production in 1968 as the SA-319B.
The SA-319B and SA-316B remained in production side by side through the 1970s and into the early 1980s. Hindustan (HAL) of India continues to licence build Alouette IIIs as the Chetak (first as SE-3160, later as SA-316B), mainly for that country's military, but also for government and civil customers. ICA of Brasov in Romania licence built SA-316Bs as IAR-316Bs, and 60 SE-3160 were built in Switzerland by F+W Emmen. Other SE-3160 were assembled by Fokker and Lichtwerk in the Netherlands.
Like the Alouette II, the III has been used in a wide range of utility roles, and many armed military variants have been built.
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