France Navy Alouette III embarquée actuellement sur la FASM Latouche Tréville 640Marine Nationale withdraws final Alouette 3

On 9 December 2022, the Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Pierre Vandier, will preside a ceremony marking the retirement of the Alouette 3 helicopters after 60 years of service with the Force maritime de l'aéronautique Navale (Marine Nationale, French Naval Aviation, French Navy). After the withdrawal of the Lynx in 2020, the venerable Alouette 3 will now also disappear from the air order of the French Naval Aviation.

As of today, 29 November 2022, the French Navy had five Alouette 3s in their inventory, all belonging to flotille 34 (34F)/ESHE (Ecole Spécialisation Hélicoptères Embarqués) based at Lanvéoc-Poulmic, in Brittany, including one in French Polynesia. Their missions consisted of the pilot's training in deck landing, operational liaison, naval force support and rescue at sea.

This summer, the Alouette 3 ended her career as a ship-borne helicopter aboard the command and supply ship FNS Somme (A631) and the surveillance frigate FNS Prairial (F731). On 8 July 2022, the Lanvéoc’ atelier industriel de l'aéronautique (AIA) re-delivered SA319B Alouette, serial 997 (c/n 1997), to the French Navy. This was the final Alouette 3 receiving depot level maintenance.

France Navy Départ de lAlouette III X1997 après sa dernière visite au SIAé 640The navy received their first Alouette 3, out of a total of 37, in 1963. The last SA316B model Alouettes were retired in 2018, with the navy retaining only the SA319B series. This version was initially equipped with two Mk46 torpedoes for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) with 34F. At a later stage, the Lynx HAS2(FN)/HAS4(FN) and the AS565SA Panther flotilles took over the ASW missions.

The Aviation légère de l’armée de Terre (ALAT, French Army Aviation) ordered 82 Alouette 3 series. The department received the pre-series SE3160, serials 001 (ex F-ZWVT) and 002 (ex F-ZWVU), and two SA319A models, serial 1692 and 1693, which are the only two SA319 models operated by the Army.

The Armée de l'Air (AdlA, French Air Force) used the Alouette 3 from 1972 to 2004 within several squadrons. The helicopter has also been used with the Gendarmerie Nationale and the Sécurité Civile.

A total of 1,453 Alouette 3s were delivered by the La Courneuve and Marignane factories until 1 May 1985 to various military and civil operators. Numerous countries still use the helicopter or its Indian version, the HAL Chetak, within their Armed Forces. So, it's not the end of the story yet.

Photos by Marine National

Subscribe to Scramble

As a member you get access to all our
premium content and benefits learn more


Follow us and keep in touch