The SA316 Alouette III is a single-engine, light utility helicopter developed by Sud Aviation and later manufactured by Aérospatiale of France. A successor to the Alouette II being larger and having more seating it was originally powered by a Turbomeca Artouste IIIB turboshaft engine. Recognised for its mountain rescue capabilities and adaptability, the first version the SE 3160 prototype flew on 28 February 1959. Production of the SA 316A began in 1961 and the type remained in production until the early 1980's when the main production line in France was closed down. However, HAL of India continues to licence-build Alouette IIIs as the Chetak. Versions of the Alouette III were also either licence-built or assembled by IAR in Romania (as the IAR 316), F+W Emmen in Switzerland, and by Fokker and Lichtwerk in the Netherlands.
In June 2004, the Alouette III was retired from the French Air Force after 32 years of successful service. In the same year, the Swiss Armed Forces announced the retirement of the Alouette III, from the front line by 2006, and entirely by 2010. Venezuelan Air forces retired their Alouette IIIs in the late 90s
At Baldonnel on 21 September 2007 the Alouette III was retired from the Irish Air Corps. During 44 years of successful service, the fleet amassed over 77,000 flying hours. As well as routine military missions, the aircraft undertook some 1,717 Search and Rescue Missions, saving 542 lives and flew a further 2,882 Air Ambulance flights.