|Armor||Front 0 / Side 0 / Rear 0 / Top 0|
|Fuel Capacity||570 L|
|Type||Marine, Airborne, Mechanized, Armored, Motorized, Support|
If the US Army was the first one to use helicopters (R-4) as far as the late WW2, the French Army soon foresaw the use of those vehicles for more than liaison and medical evacuation. As soon as 1954, a few month after the disaster at Dien Bien Phu, all the Army helicopters were gathered into one single arm service branch: the ALAT.
At the same time, French aeronautics industry was developing the world first turbine engine (as opposed to piston engine) helicopter: the SA-313 Alouette II. Improvement on the Alouette II quickly led to the bigger and more powerful SA-316 Alouette III. The latter was used by the Army in Algeria, testing a wide array of weapon system, from side-gunners "à la française" to the first airborne ATGM (SS-10 & SS-11 at the time), rocket pods, ... an experience that will be used later to design the Gazelle.
Although not as fast as the Gazelle, the Alouette III was beloved by its pilots for its easy handling and, however removed from the light attack role in favor of the former, nonetheless remained in service as a liaison and observation helicopter up to the 2000's!
Most of them were slowly passed on from "line" Army units to the Gendarmerie Nationale (military police performing civilian duties alongside the Police Nationale in time of peace). They were therefore a common sight over highways and as a mountain rescue helicopter for the last 60 years.