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Eurocopter / Aerospatiale Panther Multi-Purpose / Multi-Role Helicopter (1985)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 2/26/2014

The Eurocopter AS565 Panther series is a militarized do-everything platform of the base Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin.

The Eurocopter AS565 "Panther" is nothing more than a medium class, multi-role, twin-engined militarized form of the original - and hugely successful - Aerospatiale AS365 "Dauphin". Aerospatiale produced over 800 Dauphins for military and civilian use and many have continued operations throughout the world today. Aerospatiale, then headquartered at Toulouse, France, merged with EADS while its helicopter division was melded with Daimler-Benz Aerospace to become "Eurocopter" in 1992. Today, Eurocopter's products reach some 140 total countries while the Panther is utilized, in one form or another, by some fifteen different nations as of this writing - these to include such powers as Brazil, China, France, Israel, South Korea Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States to name a few. The Panther varied from its Dauphin origins by introducing the paired engine design and all-new rotor housing, raising performance specifications and mission capabilities as a result.

The Panther maintains a sleek appearance from nose to tail. The cockpit is situated well-forward in the design with excellent visibility through the glazed forward fuselage. The base crew of two - pilot and co-pilot - enter/exit the aircraft through a pair of automobile-style hinged doors along the forward fuselage sides. The passenger cabin is directly to the rear of the cockpit with variable internal arrangements available to suit mission requirements per customer. The cabin is accessed by a forward hinged swinging door and a rear-set sliding door fitted to either side of the fuselage. The engines are mounted atop the flight cabin, powering a four-bladed main rotor and a multi-bladed tail rotor housed in a "Fenestron" shroud. While the latter is a more expensive alternative to the traditionally exposed tail rotors seen on most other helicopters, it offers higher rotation speeds, basic protection from debris and enemy fire and some sound reduction qualities. The fuselage contours elegantly into the thick tail stem which sports outboard vertical tail fins, the shrouded tail rotor and a main larger vertical tail fin. The undercarriage is fully retractable and consists of a pair of main landing gear legs and a nose wheel leg. The main legs are each single-wheeled whereas the nose leg features a pair of landing wheels.

The base search and rescue mount is powered by a pair of Turbomeca Arriel 2C turboshaft engines, each delivering 851 shaft horsepower. This provides the airframe with a top speed of 190 miles per hour and ferry range equal to 514 miles. The helicopter maintains a service ceiling of just under 20,000 feet. As well as retrieving personnel at sea or in otherwise unreachable areas, the Panther can be utilized as a MEDEVAC platform for the transport of wounded persons. As a base transport model, the Panther can also transport some ten combat-ready personnel for insertion/extraction sorties.

The adaptability of the Panther airframe means that she can be customized by operator needs to fulfill a variety of armed and unarmed battlefield roles. Armed variants have been fitted with machine guns, machine gun pods, cannon pods, unguided rocket pods, air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles. For the anti-ship/anti-submarine role, the type can also be armed with torpedoes (coupled with sonar and search radars). Such armed helicopters offer tactical advantages when hunting land-based targets or naval vessels due to their excellent hovering capabilities and loitering times. Of course they become more susceptible to enemy ground fire as a result.

The initial production mark of the Panther became the "SA365 K", which itself was based on the improved AS365 N2 of the Dauphin 2 series. Attack marks became the AS565 AA and AS565 AB which were based on the N2 and AS365 N3 respectively, the latter a further improved Dauphin 2 mount. The anti-tank version - the AS565 Ca - was based on the AS365 N2. Anti-submarine versions became the AS565 SA and AS565 SB which were based on the N2 and N3 respectively. The primary Search and Rescue (SAR) variant was assigned the designation of AS565 MB (based on the N3) and has proven the most popular of the Panther family line, able to be armed or left unarmed and fulfill a variety of naval-oriented roles beyond SAR. Basic utility airframes are AS565 UA and AS565 UB, again differentiated by their origins in the N2 and N3 respectively.

Brazil license-produces the Panther as the HM-1 "Panteras" for its Brazilian Army under the Helibras product banner.

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Specifications for the
Eurocopter / Aerospatiale Panther
Multi-Purpose / Multi-Role Helicopter

Focus Model: Eurocopter / Aerospatiale AS565 MB Panther
Country of Origin: France
Manufacturer: Eurocopter (Aerospatiale) - France
Initial Year of Service: 1985
Production: 550

Crew: 3 + 8

Length: 44.88 ft (13.68 m)
Width: 39.17 ft (11.94 m)
Height: 13.02ft (3.97 m)
Weight (Empty): 5,247 lb (2,380 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 9,480 lb (4,300 kg)

Powerplant: 2 x Turbomeca Arriel 2C turboshaft engines delivering 851 shaft horsepower each.

Maximum Speed: 190 mph (306 kmh; 165 kts)
Maximum Range: 514 miles (827 km)
Service Ceiling: 19,242 ft (5,865 m; 3.6 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 1,800 feet-per-minute (549 m/min)

Hardpoints: 2
Armament Suite:
OPTIONAL (can include combinations of the following):
Giat M621 20mm cannon gunpods
2.75-inch 19-shot rocket pods
68mm 22-shot rocket pods
Aerospatiale AS 15 TT anti-ship missiles
Euromissile HOT anti-tank missiles
20mm cabin-mounted cannons
Mark 46 Torpedos

SA 365 FK - Original Aerospatiale Designation of SA 365 K.

SA 365 K - Initial Version based on the AS365 N2.

AS565 UA - Utility Variant of AS365 N2

AS565 UB - Utility Variant of AS365 N3

AS565 AA - Dedicated Attack Platform based on the AS365 N2.

AS565 AB - Dedicated Attack Platform based on the AS365 N3.

AS565 MA - Navalized Search & Rescue (SAR) platform; based on the AS365 N2.

AS565 MB - Navalized Search & Rescue (SAR) platform; based on the AS365 N3.

AS565 SA - Anti-Submarine Warfare Version based on the AS365 N2.

AS565 SB - Anti-Submarine Warfare Version based on the AS365 N3.

AS565 CA - Dedicated Anti-Tank variant of the AS365 N2; provision for HOT AT missiles.

AS565 N3 - Greece export model; maritime patrol and surveillance platform based on the AS365 N3.

AS565 SC - Saudi Arabian export model; Search & Rescue (SAR) platform.

HM-1 "Panteras" - Brazilian Export Model; designation of the AS565 for use by the Brazilian Army.

"Panther 800" - Proposed Light Utility Helicopter for the US Army; fitted with 2 x LHTEC T800 turboshaft engines; prototype forms.

Angola; Brazil; Bulgaria; China; France; Greece; Ireland; Israel; Mexico; Morocco; Saudi Arabia; South Korea; Thailand; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; United States; Zambia