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military helicopters • gunships • army attack helicopters
military helicopters

SA 341/342 Gazelle

The Aérospatiale Gazelle was developed in the mid-60s by the French Army to be a multi-role scout/light transport/light support/anti-tank helicopter. The design was soon licensed to the British who developed their own variants for the RAF, Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Army Air Corps. Many other countries have since bought and deployed the Gazelle. For the light support and anti-tank role, the French Gazelles are due to be phased out in favor of the Tiger attack helicopter.

gazzelle sa 341
French Gazelle SA 341F armed with 20mm cannon for the light support role

The Gazelle is a small, agile and fast helicopter. The SA 341 set 3 world helicopter speed records. It can be flown by a single pilot and carry up to 5 passengers. Like all light helicopters, the Gazelle relies on speed and mobility at low level to evade detection and enemy fire, to which the lightly armored Gazelle is vulnerable. Several British Gazelles were shot down by ground-based small arms fire during the Falklands conflict.

  • 3x glass-fibre rotor blades
  • fenestron (fan-in-fin) encloses tail rotor for increased stability and survivability + reduced noise
  • aerobatic capabilities include full loops and rolls
  • narrow head-on profile lets the Gazelle hide at low level
  • extremely fast and maneuverable
SA 342M
anti-tank version armed with 4xHOT wire-guided missiles
SA 341F
light support version armed with a rigidly fixed GIAT 20mm cannon
a SA 341F with the addition of Mistral air-to-air missiles
a SA 342M augmented with Mistrals
British battlefield reconnaissance version (unarmed)
HOT missile rack
The French Gazelle carries the wire-guided HOT anti-tank missile. The co-pilot/gunner uses a periscope-like viewer to acquire and guide the missile

SA 342 Gazelle Specifications

gazelle sight
British Special Forces (14 Intelligence Company) used the Gazelle's thermal imaging missile sight to track terrorist suspects in Northern Ireland.
Crew 2 - Pilot, Co-pilot/gunner
Engines 1xTurbomeca Astazou IIA 850hp turboshaft
Dimensions L - 9.53m
W (rotorspan) - 10.50m
H - 3.18m
Weights 998 kg (empty)
1,800 kg (max loadout)
Max Speed 310 kph (no armaments)
Range 670 km
Armament 36mm SNEB rocket pods
HOT wire-guided missiles
TOW wire-guided missiles
20mm cannon
Mistral air-to-air missiles
Avionics Viviane Thermal Imaging Sight

gazelle firing missile
A Serbian Gazelle fires an anti-tank missile. Wire-guided missiles spool out a thin control wire behind them through which the guidance system sends flight adjustment commands. Note the 4 flares burning around the missile's tail - these ensure the missile stays visible to the gunner.
gazelle photos:
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