The Belgian Defence Alouette II: an endangered species
Thursday March 26th 2009, the Belgian Defence Ministry has published the
request for proposals for the public sale of its last twenty-three
SA.318C Alouette II helicopters. Most of these light machines are
currently stored at the Zutendaal airbase Depot. Despite the fact that
most of them are in non flying condition and in need of inspection,
these helicopters are estimated at a total value of 500.000 Euros. The
sale has been split-up in three equivalent packages, identified as
Alouette II A-61, one of only three remaining operational in flight near Hasselt
The Belgian Defence Alouette II’s were purchased in four batches between 1959 and 1967 to replace the Army Light Aviation fixed wing Piper L-18C Super Cubs.
A first batch of seventeen (s/n A-01 to A-17) Sud-Est SE.3130 Alouette II ((later known as Sud-Aviation SA.313B) was bought in 1959 quickly followed in October 1960 by a second batch of twenty-two aircraft (s/n A-18 to A-39). The SE.3130 Alouette II was the first turbine-powered helicopter in the world to go into production, the new machine incorporating the reliable 400 hp Turboméca Artouste I turbo- shaft. In July 1960, soon after delivery to the 16 Esc Lt Avn the first Belgian Army Alouette II’s were rushed to Congo from their Belgian base in Germany to assist in the military operations following the troubled events in the wake of the former Belgian colonies independence.
In early 1967 it was decided to purchase a third batch of seventeen, more powerful Alouette (s/n A-40 to A-56) SA.3180 (later known as SA.318C), equipped with the 530 hp Turboméca Astazou IIA turbo shaft engine, followed by a fourth order for twenty-five aircraft on October 30th, 1967 (s/n A-57 to A-81). Of interest is the fact that aircraft A-47 to A-77 were assembled at the SABCA plant of Gosselies.
A-61 keeping up with one of his younger Wing Heli compagnions, an Agusta A-109BA
1968 a final batch of six SA.3180 Alouette II (s/n A-90 to A-95) were
ordered for the Rijkswacht/Gendarmerie (now Federal Police). Until 1993
the Alouette II of the Gendarmerie were mostly flown and maintained by
personnel of the Belgian Army Light Aviation (Lt Avn) at
A-64 in the Alouette hangar at Bierset airbase on 30 March 2009
The Alouette II equipped the School of Light Aviation (shadow Squadron name until 1964: 15 Smd Lt Avn) at Brasschaat AB as well as the three Light Aviation first line squadrons (Esc or Smd) all based in Germany in support of the 1 (BE) Corps units:
Esc Lt Avn at
Smd Lt Avn at
Smd Lt Avn at
The Alouette II served with the Belgian Army, in liaison, photographic, medevac, communication and training roles.
At the end of the Cold War and the consecutive arrival on strength in the early nineties of the Agusta A109BA Hirundo the Alouette II’s were only used for helicopter training at Brasschaat and liaison duties by the 16 Esc Lt Avn. This squadron relocated with its two sister units at Bierset airbase to form the Group Light Aviation (Got Lt Avn) in 1995. At that time all the remaining Artouste-equipped Alouette II were taken out of service and subsequently put for sale or donated to museums.
Alouette II A-61 hovering over the Bierset airbase Agusta flightline, unfortunately this could soon be a thing of the past
After the closure of the
More on the Belgian Defence Alouette II can be found at the dedicated BAHA Wiki pages: http://belmilac.wetpaint.com/page/Sud+Aviation+SA313B-C+Alouette+II
Text and pictures by
© Vincent Pirard/AviaScribe & Daniel Brackx (April 2009)
Last updated 02/04/09 09:18 Daniel Brackx