Aerospatiale SA 321

TYPE: Multirole utility helicopter


POWERPLANTS: SA 321G - Three 1100kW to 1215kW (1475shp to 1630shp) Turbom├ęca Turmo IIIC turboshafts, driving a six bladed main rotor and five bladed tail rotor.

PERFORMANCE: SA 321G - Max cruising speed at sea level 248km/h (134kt). Max initial rate of climb (inclined) 1214ft/min, 480ft/min on two engines. Hovering ceiling in ground effect 7120ft. Service ceiling 10,170ft. Range 1020km (550nm). Endurance in ASW role 4hr.

WEIGHTS: SA 321G - Empty 6700kg (14,775lb), max takeoff 13,000kg (28,660lb).

DIMENSIONS: Main rotor diameter 18.90m (62ft Oin), length overall 23.03m (75ft 7in), fuselage length 19.40m (63ft 8in), height 6.66m (21ft 10in). Main rotor disc area 280.6m2 (3019sq ft).

ACCOMMODATION: Flightcrew of two. Original SA 321G ASW configuration seats three tactical/sonar operators. Transport configured Super Frelons can seat 30 troops or carry 15 stretcher patients in a medevac configuration.

ARMAMENT: As originally configured, SA 321 Gs could carry four homing torpedoes or two AM 39 Exocet anti shipping missiles. Various export aircraft configured to launch Exocet.

OPERATORS: Argentina, China, France, Iraq, Syria.

HISTORY: While only built in relatively small numbers (though it is still built under licence in China), the Super Frelon has the distinction of being the largest helicopter to be built in quantity in western Europe. The Super Frelon was developed from the smaller, mid size SA 3200 Frelon (Hornet), the first flight of which was on June 10 1959. The Frelon was intended to meet French military requirements for a mid size transport helicopter, and although four prototypes were built, it was not ordered into production. Instead the Frelon formed the basis for the much larger Super Frelon which Sud Aviation developed in conjunction with Sikorsky. Sikorsky helped primarily with the development of the main and tail rotor systems, while Fiat of Italy assisted with the gearbox and power transmission (and built those parts for production aircraft).
The SA 3210-01 prototype Super Frelon flew for the first time on December 7 1962, while 99 production aircraft were built in three basic models. The SA 321G was initially operated by the French Navy as an anti submarine warfare and sanitization aircraft for French nuclear armed submarines, equipped with radar, dunking sonar and torpedoes. Similar SA 321 GMs and SA 321 Hs were delivered to Syria and Iraq respectively. The SA 321F and SA 321J were civil variants, while the SA 321J is a utility transport. Non amphibious transport versions were exported to South Africa (SA 321 L) and Israel (SA 321K), while Libya's SA 321 Ms were delivered for SAR and logistics support. French production ceased in 1983, while Changhe in China continues to licence build the multirole Z-8 development.


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