The Super Frelon SA 321G is an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and search and rescue (SAR) helicopter developed by French aerospace company Aérospatiale. The helicopter is in service with the French Navy and China’s People's Liberation Army Navy.
Besides ASW and SAR operations, the helicopter can be used for maritime patrols, commando transportation and vertical replenishment functions.
The SA 321G made its maiden flight in November 1965 and deliveries began in 1966. China acquired 13 helicopters in 1977/78.
Flottille 32F of the French Naval Aviation operates the SA 321G fleet. The helicopters are scheduled to be replaced by NH90s by 2011/12.
Design and features
The SA 321G is derived from the SA 321 Super Frelon, a heavy transport helicopter manufactured by Aérospatiale. The fuselage is a boat-hull-type structure with a round nose, a glass cockpit and a six-bladed main rotor. The tail has a five-blade anti-torque rotor. The helicopter is powered by three turboshaft engines.
The rear landing gear has a stabilising float for support and the tail section of the helicopter can be folded for stowage. The ASW and SAR variants feature a hoist with a winch and scoop for rescue missions. The SA 321G is also equipped with a laser designator, night vision system and a personal locator system.
SA 321G cockpit
The cockpit accommodates five crew members and is equipped with dual controls, advanced all-weather equipment and autopilot.
The SA 321G is armed with a 20mm cannon, four homing torpedoes and two Exocet anti-ship missiles. It can carry eight 250kg mines for mine-laying missions. China’s SA 321Gs have pylons under the fuselage to carry ET52 ASW torpedoes.
The helicopter is equipped with a mine-sweeping countermeasure system. The system can be towed by the helicopter at 46km/h for up to two hours. The Chinese SA 321G variants are not equipped with the system.
Two float-mounted radomes on each side of the fuselage house a surface-search radar. The SAR variant has a weather radar in a radome fitted on the nose. The variants are equipped with an ORB-42 navigation and search radar. The ASW variant is equipped with a Thomson Sintra HS-12 dipping sonar.
The SA 321G’s navigation aids include radio compasses, a tactical air navigation system, distance measuring equipment and instrument landing system. There is also a Crouzet-type 410 autonomous navigation system, a global positioning system and an OMERA ORB 32W radar.
The SA 321G is powered by three Turboméca IIIC7 turboshaft engines rated at 1,610hp each. Two engines are mounted in front of the main rotor shaft and one is mounted to its aft. The fuel tanks under the centre fuselage have the capacity of 3,975l. Two optional 500l external tanks are also available for extended range.
The SA 321G has a maximum speed of 248km/h and a range of 1,020km. The helicopter can climb at a rate of 300m a minute. The empty weight of the helicopter is 6.86t and the maximum take off weight is 13t.