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Sud Aviation / Aerospatiale SA 330 Puma Medium Transport / Assault Helicopter (1969)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 7/2/2014

The SA 330 Puma helicopter has gone into operational service with no fewer than 40 military forces worldwide.

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The Puma began life as a product of Sud Aviation designed to meet an French Army requirement for an all-weather, medium-lift, multi-purpose utility helicopter to replace the aging set of Sikorsky S-58 systems in French service. Additional requirements stipulated operation in day or night environments with potential operations of the type reaching virtually in any region of the world. Though originally designed and produced under the Sud Aviation banner (hence the "SA" in the model designation), ownership of the helicopter changed hands when Sud merged with SEREB and Nord Aviation becoming Aerospatiale.

Two prototypes were constructed under the designation of Alouette V (SA 330A) with the first one flying on April 15th, 1965 from Marignane. These designs were based in the Super Frelon helicopters though the SA 330 was modernized through-and-through right down to construction methods utilized. The prototypes were subsequently followed by 6 pre-production aircraft which were evaluated into the middle of 1968. Results proved the design to be sound, showcasing good speed and agility and proving to be reliable for a complex system of this type. Production of the now-designated SA 330B "Puma" officially began in September of that year to which some 697 total examples were eventually produced. The Puma officially entered operational service in 1970. Pumas went on to serve in no fewer than 40 air forces and armies worldwide - from Albania to Zaire - making it one of the most successful helicopter designs of all time.

As an aside, 1967 found the Royal Air Force (RAF) taking an interest in the French-based system as well and tabbed it for their own revamped needs resulting in an Aerospatiale-Westland joint production partnership. This joint venture would also produce the likes of the fabulous Lynx multi-role and Gazelle light helicopters of which both militaries would field in some number. For the RAF, the arrival of the Puma favorably brought about the end use for their Whirlwind and Belvedere series. British Pumas went under the designation of Puma HC.Mk 1.

At its core, the Puma is powered by twin Turbomeca Turmo IVC turboshaft engines developing 1,575 horsepower each powering a four-bladed main rotor and five-bladed tail rotor (the latter interestingly mounted to the starboard side of the tailfin). Distinctive to the Puma design is that the powerplants are mounted well forward of the cabin rooftop above the stout and contoured fuselage and exhaust at about the middle of the design. Performance figures include a never-exceed speed of 169 miles-per-hour, maximum speed of 159 miles-per-hour, a range of 360 miles and a service ceiling of 15,750 feet with a rate-of-climb nearing 1,400 feet-per-minute.


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Specifications for the
Sud Aviation / Aerospatiale SA 330 Puma
Medium Transport / Assault Helicopter


Focus Model: Sud Aviation / Aerospatiale SA 330H Puma
Country of Origin: France
Manufacturer: Aerospatiale - France / Westland - UK
Initial Year of Service: 1969
Production: 697


Crew: 3 + 16


Length: 59.55 ft (18.15 m)
Width: 49.21 ft (15.00 m)
Height: 16.86ft (5.14 m)
Weight (Empty): 7,796 lb (3,536 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 15,432 lb (7,000 kg)


Powerplant: 2 x Turbomeca Turmo IVC turboshaft engines generating 1,575shp each and driving main blade and tail blade rotors.


Maximum Speed: 170 mph (273kmh; 147 kts)
Maximum Range: 360 miles (580km)
Service Ceiling: 15,748 ft (4,800 m; 3.0 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 1,400 feet per minute (427 m/min)


Hardpoints: 0
Armament Suite:
Mission-specific depending on role and operator. May include machine guns and cannons as needed.


Variants:
Alouette IV - Initial Series Designation


SA 330A - Base Series Designation initially produced by Sud Aviation; eight prototypes.

SA 330B Initial Production Example Models

SA 330Ba - Designation for SA 330H model when in French service.

SA 330C Initial Export Variant Model

SA 330E - Basis of HC.Mk 1 RAF model produced by Westland for trials program.

SA 330F - Export Variant

SA 330G - Fitted with Turmo IVC turboshaft engines; production now by Aerospatiale.

SA 330H - Militarized Variant similar to the SA 330G; some standardized from SA 330F models.

SA 330J - Produced with new blade construction; based overall on SA 300G model series; civilian equivalent of "L" model.

SA 330L - Produced with new blade construction; based overall on SA 330H model series; defintive military Puma.

SA 330R - Stretched Fuselage Variant of which only one produced; led to development of SA 332 Super Puma model series.

SA 330S - Portugal model featuring Makila 1 turboshaft engines and composite blades.

SA 330Z - Fitted with fenestron tail rotor assembly; developmental aircraft for SA 360 "Dauphin".

IAR 330L - Romanian-produced Puma based on SA 330L model series; transport variant and gunship variant (fitted with 20mm cannon gunpods and side-mounted launch rails for rockets and missiles).

IAR SOCAT Puma - Nose-mounted FLIR system; 20mm turret cannon; anti-tank missile mounts; based on IAR 330L model series; produced in conjunction with Israeli Elbit corporation.

SA 332 "Super Puma" First flew in 1978; fitted with de-icing equipment, more powerful engines, single-wheel landing gear systems and new composite main rotor blades.

SA 360 "Dauphin"

HC.Mk 1 - Based on SA 330E model but in RAF service; built under license by Westland; 48 such models produced at Yeovil.

Atlas Oryx - South African-produced indigenous model based on SA 330.

NSA-330 - Indonesian license-produced Puma based on the SA 330L model.


Operators:
Albania; Argentina; Belgium; Brazil; Cambodia; Cameroon; Chile; Ivory Coast; Ecuador; Ethiopia; France; Gabon; Gambia; Germany (civilian); Guinea; Indonesia; Iran; Kenya; Kuwait; Lebanon; Malawi; Mexico; Morocco; Nepal; Nigeria; Pakistan; Philippines; Protugal; Romania; Slovenia; South Africa; Spain; Sudan; Togo; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; United States; Venezuela; Zaire