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The Aerospatiale Gazelle is a light single engine helicopter that was originally developed for the French Army as a replacement for the Alouette III. Since its first flight in 1967, over 1,700 have been built and the type has seen service in variety roles from light transport to battlefield scout to attack helicopter and as a trainer. The Gazelle has seen combat in numerous conflicts and was flown by both sides in the first Gulf War. The Gazelle is still in service with 23 nations today however it is slowly being replaced by newer types in specialised roles such as attack helicopter.
The Gazelle in French service has been deployed on multiple military campaigns since the 1980s including a deployment of 50 helicopters to the first Gulf War. During recent operations in Mali, the French Army have used the Gazelle as a gunship to cover raids on insurgent positions. The SA342M version was used as an anti-tank helicopter by the French Army however it has largely been replaced in this role by the Tigre attack helicopter.
This SA342M Gazelle will be joining us to support the show and was purchased by its owner directly from the French Army four years ago and still wears its military markings. HA-HSG is configured for hot and high operations with the more powerful Astazou XIV/M engine plus a full autopilot and wire cutting system. This helicopter will not be on static display during the weekend. Photo Credit: Steve Atherton