|Armée de Terre Gazelle at Radom Air Show 2005.|
|Maiden flight||7 April 1967|
|Primary users||French Army
Serbian Air Force
|Developed from||Aérospatiale Alouette III|
 Design and development
The Aérospatiale Gazelle originated in a French Army requirement for a lightweight utility helicopter. The design quickly attracted British interest, leading to a development and production shareout agreement with British company Westland Helicopters (later AgustaWestland). The deal, signed in February 1967, allowed the production in Britain of 292 Gazelles and 48 Aérospatiale Pumas ordered by the British armed forces, in return Aérospatiale were given a workshare in the manufacturing programme for the 40 Westland Lynx naval helicopters for the French Navy.
Though the general layout resembles that of the Alouette series, the Gazelle featured several important innovations. This was the first helicopter to carry a fenestron or fantail, which allows considerable noise reduction. Also, the rotor blades were made of composite materials, a feature now widely used in modern helicopters.
In service with the French Army Light Aviation, the ALAT, the Gazelle is used primarily as an anti-tank gunship (SA 342M) armed with HOT missiles. A light support version equipped with a 20 mm cannon is used (SA 341F) as well as anti-air variants carrying the Mistral air-to-air missile (Gazelle Celtic based on the SA 341F, Gazelle Mistral based on the SA 342M). The latest anti-tank and reconnaissance versions carry the Viviane thermal imagery system and so are called Gazelle Viviane. The Gazelle is being replaced in frontline duties by the Eurocopter Tiger but will continue to be used for light transport and liaison roles.
It also served with all branches of the British armed forces—the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy (including Royal Marines) and the British Army in a variety of roles. Four versions of the Gazelle were used by the British Forces. The SA341D became the Gazelle HT.3 in RAF service, equipped as a helicopter pilot trainer (hence HT). The SA 341E was used for communications duties and VIP transport and as the Gazelle HCC.4. The SA 341C was purchased as the Gazelle HT.2 pilot trainer for the Royal Navy. The training variants have now been replaced by the Squirrel HT1. The SA 341B was equipped to a specification for the Army Air Corps as the Gazelle AH.1 (from Army Helicopter Mark 1). It was used as an Air Observation Post (AOP) for directing artillery fire, Airborne Forward Air Controller (ABFAC) directing ground-attack aircraft, casualty evacuation, liaison, and command and control, and communications relay.
 Operational history
- The French army deployed the Gazelle on many occasions, especially during interventions in Africa and peacekeeping operations. This includes Chad (1980s), the former Yugoslavia (1990s), Djibouti (1991-1992), Somalia (1993) and Cote d'Ivoire (2002-Present). During Operation Desert Storm, HOT-carrying Gazelles were used against Iraqi armour.
- Iraq received an important number of Gazelles and HOT missiles in the 70's and 80's. They were used intensively in the Iran-Iraq War. During the Gulf War they saw little use, because of allied air supremacy.
- Syrian Gazelles were used during 1982 Lebanon War. They had some success against Israeli armour, but suffered heavy losses.
- United Kingdom
- The Gazelle was used in combat in the Falkland Islands, Kuwait, Iraq and Kosovo and with 8 Flight Army Air Corps in support of 22 Special Air Service Regiment. It was also used for air patrols in Northern Ireland. British Gazelles were only armed when used in the Falklands, where they were fitted with machine guns and rocket pods, but these were not used.
- SA.341/342 Gazelle GAMA (Yugoslav version) was used by Republika Srpska Air Force and Republika Srpska Krajna Militia Air Force during the Yugoslav civil wars (1991-1995), and by the Yugoslav airforce during the Kosovo war.
- The Gazelle is being used by the Lebanese Air Force against the terrorist group Fatah al-Islam during Operation Nahr el-Bared.
- The Irish Air Corps formerly operated two Gazelle helicopters as pilot training aircraft.
- First French production machine.
- SA-341B (Westland Gazelle AH.1)
- Version built for the British Army.
- SA-341C (Westland Gazelle HT.2)
- Training helicopter version built for British Fleet Air Arm.
- SA-341D (Westland Gazelle HT.3)
- Training helicopter version built for British Royal Air Force.
- SA-341E (Westland Gazelle HCC.4)
- Liaison helicopter version built for British Royal Air Force.
- Version built for the French Army version.
- Civil variant, powered by one Astazou IIIA turboshaft engine.
- Military export variant, powered by one Astazou IIIB turboshaft engine.
- French Army version fitted with the more powerful 649-kW (870-shp) Astazou XIV turboshaft engine.
- Civil variant, fitted with the more powerful 649-kW (870-shp) Astazou XIV turboshaft engine.
- Military export version, fitted with the more powerful 649-kW (870-shp) Astazou XIV turboshaft engine.
- Military version of the SA 342J civil model built for the French Army, fitted with the more powerful 649-kW (870-shp) Astazou XIV turboshaft engine.
- French Army anti-tank helicopter, it can be armed with four HOT anti-tank missiles.
- Standard SA-342M retrofitted with three Ecureuil main blades and received some minor modifications concerning its weight balance, in order to integrate a night sighting unit.
- Soko HO-42
- Yugoslav-built version of SA-341H.
- Soko HI-42 Hera
- Yugoslav-built scout version of SA-341H.
- Soko HN-42M Gama
- Yugoslav-built attack version of SA-341H.
- Soko HN-45M Gama 2
- Yugoslav-built attack version of SA-342L.
- Soko HS-42
- Yugoslav-built medic version of SA-341H.
- People's Air and Air Defence Force of Angola operates about 7 aircraft.
- Burundi Army Aviation operates 2 aircraft.
- Cameroon Air Force operates 2 aircraft.
- Cyprus Air Force operates 4 aircrafts.
- Ecuadorian Army operates about 20 aircraft.
- Egyptian Air Force operates about 84 aircraft.
- Gabon Air Force operates 5 aircrafts.
- Guinea Air Force operates 1 aircraft.
- Kuwait Air Force operates 13 aircraft.
- Air Defense operates 10 aircraft.
- Royal Moroccan Air Force operates 24 aircraft.
- Republika Srpska Air Force operates 7 aircraft.
- Syrian Air Force operates 38 aircraft.
- United Arab Emirates Air Force operates 1 aircraft.
 Specifications (SA 341)
- Crew: 2
- Length: 9.53 m (31 ft 3 in)
- Rotor diameter: 10.50 m (34 ft 5 in)
- Height: 3.18 m (10 ft 5 in)
- Disc area: 87 m² (932 ft²)
- Empty weight: 998 kg (2,196 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 1,800 kg (3,960 lb)
- Powerplant: 1× Turboméca Astazou IIIB turboshaft, 590 shp (440 kW)
- Maximum speed: 270 km/h (167 knots)
- Range: 670 km (360 nm, 420 mi)
- Service ceiling: 4,100 m (13,448 ft)
- Rate of climb: 12.2 m/s (2,400 ft/min)
 External links
 Related content
SA 341 - SA 342
- List of helicopters
- List of active United Kingdom military aircraft
- List of deaths by aircraft misadventure
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