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 Service history of the Alouette III with the RNLAF

The Alouette III helicopter has been in service with the Royal Netherlands Air Force (KLU, Koninklijke Luchtmacht) since 1963. Falling under the Command of the Air Forces in peacetime, the GPLV's operational role was to fly scouting, liaison and light transport missions for 1 (NL) Corps, under which command they would fall in wartime. The tasking for this helicopter has changed substantially over the past years. The primary mission for the last remaining four Alouette III consists of conducting Royal Flights and VIP flights.

Helicopter Force

Delivery to the Royal Netherlands Air Force

In the fifties the Group Light aircraft (Groep Lichte Vliegtuigen = GPLV) of the Netherlands Army was equipped with an Auster, Super Cub and Beaver aircraft. These were complimented by the first helicopters used by the GPLV the Hiller UH-23and Alouette II in mixed squadrons.

The aircraft were property of the Army, but maintenance and flying personnel was from the Netherlands air force This would change in 1993 as the mixed structure of the GPLV was ended and all aircraft and personal where transferred to the Air Force. In 1965 an order was placed for the Sud-Aviation SA-3160 Alouette III. For the army the first series of fifty helicopters was ordered directly at Sud-Aviation.

The first two helicopters, A-208 and A-209 arrived august 31, 1964 at the air base Soesterberg. By December 1965 all fifty helicopters were delivered. A second series of twenty-seven helicopters were built by the firm “Lichtwerk” at Hoogeveen, the Netherlands. These helicopters were built and delivered between October 1967 and July 1969. A-451 was the first Dutch built Alouette III.

For the Royal Netherlands Air Force itself an order was placed for five helicopters to replace the Alouette II in use with the SAR flight. These SAR Alouette IIIs were equipped with inflatable floats under the skids and the fuselage and a winch to hoist survivors from the sea.

In service

Operational history

The Alouette III performed a multitude of tasks during its service such as: VIP transport and Royal Flights, photo and film recordings, tactical transports, Forward Air Control, tactical patrols, leading Artillery Fire, Search and Rescue. During the 1990s the Alouette had it busiest period of deployments to several countries.

The Alouette III busiest period of service was during the 1990s with several deployments. Following the Gulf War in 1991, they flew missions to assist the Kurds on the border of northern Iraq and Turkey. During that humanitarian UN operation - Operation Provide Comfort - three Alouette III helicopters and personnel from 298 Squadron were assigned to assist 11 Engineers Auxiliary Battalion of the Royal Netherlands Army.

Missions followed as part of the European Community Monitor Missions in former Yugoslavia and UN tasks in Cambodia as part of UNTAC. For the European Community Monitor Missions, three Alouette III transported teams of EC diplomats (one of whom was from the Netherlands) who were responsible for monitoring compliance with the Brijuni Agreement (1991). That agreement called for a ceasefire between Slovenia, Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Alouette also went to Cambodia in the early 1990s. First three, then four Alouette III provided support to the 750-strong Dutch marine battalion. During this deployment with four Alouette III helicopters the helicopters were in a white colour scheme with a number of elephant symbols on it, representing missions flown. The Alouette III completed 1,845 missions for a total of 2,580 flight hours. The final mission was the deployment to Bosnia in support of the IFOR peacekeeping force..





Probably best known due to the Grasshopper display team.

The Grasshopper team, equipped with the Alouette III, performed in many air shows in Europe in a red white and blue colour scheme applied. This colour scheme was not used right from the start but was applied from 1979 after several different colour schemes.

The team was “created” in 1973 when four pilots from 299 squadron decided to put up a show at the sixtieth anniversary of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, celebrated at Deelen AB, the home base of the squadron. These four pilots were Lieutenant Gert-Jan Sijtema; Lieutenant Menno van de Berg; 2nd lieutenant Jan Jansen and Lieutenant Harry van Dam.

A problem with display flying and especially formation flying with the Alouette III was its instability during formation flying. Working around the limitation the team created a wonderful show with the helicopters turning like it was as simple as …

Another important change was that all Alouette were transferred from 299 squadron to 300 squadron, also based at Deelen AB and so the team moved to 300 squadron.

During its active period the developed a good marketing strategy by selling all kind off items from there one van, something more and more teams started doing at a later date. The team resaved many good publications after the shows and naturally won prices at the IAT in the UK

The team was disbanded in 19995 because of a tragic accident during training and the pending withdrawal of the Alouette III from operational service.

Squadrons equipped with the Alouette III
298 Squadron

298 squadron

298 squadron is the oldest squadron within the defence helicopter command. Its history goes back to the end of the Second World War as NR 6 Dutch Auster squadron an artillery reconnaissance unit. This Unit is transformed to 298 AOP (Air Observation Post) squadron at Soesterberg AB in March 1950. In the first years the squadron is equipped with four Auster’s which will be replaced by L-21 Super Cub in the following years and a transfer to Deelen AB is made in 1951. The introduction to helicopters is with the H-23 Raven at Deelen AB in 1955. From 1957 until 1963 the squadron operates from Ypenburg AB where it resaves it first Alouette II for the SAR flight (late to become a separate unit).

In 1963 the squadron moves again to Deelen AB as Ypenburg becomes a sleeping base. At Deelen the first Alouette III as the squadron start its conversion to this helicopter the last H-23 leaves the squadron in 1965. In 1968 the squadron is on the move again this time to Soesterberg AB leaving its fixed wing aircraft at Deelen AB for 300 squadron. A new type of helicopter de Bo-105 is introduced to the squadron in 1975.

The squadron will use booth types for a short period as the decision is made to create a Bo-105 and an Alouette III squadron whereby 298 squadron receives the Alouette III in 1979. In the next years the squadron stays at Soesterberg AB as dues several deployments for the UN. In 1996 the squadron converts to the Boeing CH-47F. Today the squadron still operates the Chinook from Gilze Rijen AB as part of the Defensie Helikopter Commando.

299 Squadron

299 Squadron

299 squadron was created in September flying a mix of fixed wing aircraft and helicopters like its sister squadron 298 at Deelen AB. In the first years it is responsible for the training of fixed wing and helicopter pilots. In 1957 it moves toe Ypenburg AB where it would stay until its return at Deelen AB in 1962 at which point the training of helicopter pilots is transferred to the newly erected 300 squadron. In May 1962 the transition from the H-23B to the Alouette III is completed and from 1969 the last fixed wing aircraft leave the squadron making it all helicopter squadron.

In 1976 a new helicopter is introduced to 299 squadron the Bo-105. At first the two types fly site by site in 298 and 299 squadron but in august 1979 the Alouette III are transferred to 298 squadron and 299 becomes fully operational on the B0-105 ending it use of the Alouette III.
The squadron is possibly best known for its demonstration team The Grasshoppers.

At this moment 299 squadron is still a operational unit al Gilze Rijen AB responsibly for different aspects off training , using helicopters from the other units at Gilze Rijen AB if needed.

300 Squadron

300 Squadron

As one of three reserve squadrons 300, 301 and 302 it is the only one to be formed ( although 301 and 302 will be formed as AH-64 squadrons on a later date) at Ypenburg AB in 1962. It starts operating in the Training role at first on the H-23 Raven but by august 1965 the transition has been made to the Alouette III. From this point the squadron also still operates the L-21B super cub and the DHC 2 Beaver. A period that ends with the retirement of the last Super Cub in 1976

As Ypenburg AB loses its operational states the squadron moves to Deelen AB 1968 at that point it transfers it training task to 299 squadron a task it would gain again in 1975. At first pilots come from the Fort Rucker were they received there helicopter training and from 1989 pilots come from the course at Woensdrecht.

With the introduction of the Cougar helicopter to the squadron it moves again this time to Soesterberg AB. As the introduction of the Cougar progresses Alouette III are leaving the squadron, with the Alouette being very popular with the royal family it is decided that a flight of four will be kept in service for the transport of the royal family and other VIPs, the SE.3160 Alouette III were modified by RUAG in Alpnach, Switzerland, to the more powerful SA.316B and received a blue colour scheme.

With the creation of the Defensie Helikopter Commando (DHC) the squadron moved to Gilze Rijen AB where it is still based today, operations with the Alouette III ended in December 2015.

SAR Flight 303 Sqn

SAR Flight - 303 Squadron

On March 25 1959 the first of six Alouette II were integrated in to 298 squadron at Ypenburg AB as Search and rescue flight. The search and rescue task is directly linked to the exercise area for these aircraft in the Waddenzee. In addition to the SAR task, the air force also deploys the helicopters for transporting patients from the West Frisian Islands to hospitals on the mainland and for rescuing people from the sea. In April of the same year the flight reaches its operational states with a deployment at Terschelling. In 1962 the flight becomes an independent unit and one off the extra tasked off the unit becomes the transport off the Royal family In 1967 the Alouette II are being replaced by the Alouette III which coincided with a transfer of the flight to Soesterberg AB.

On October 8 1971 Alouette III H-08 is lost in an accident, leaving the flight with only four helicopters. In June 1977 the flight moves again, this time to Leeuwarden AB to be closer to the ranges and so its operational area. In 1992 a contract is signed for three AB 412SP as a replacement for the Alouette III, the first Alouette to leave the flight is H-20 when it is delivered to the air force museum on December 13 1993.

By March 1994 the flight is fully operational on the AB 412SP. On 1st off January 2015, the characteristic yellow AB-412SP search-and-rescue helicopters where taken out of service. The three AB 412SP helicopters where sold to Chilli and Consequently, 303 Squadron, stationed at Leeuwarden Air Base at the time was disbanded. In total, the 303 Squadron helicopters made almost 5,500 life-saving and emergency sorties during is existence

End of the line

End of the line

Some of the Alouette III helicopters were sold back to Eurocopter as part of the purchase agreement for the Cougar. This had no effect on the operational states as most were in reserve for 301 and 302 squadron.

Others have been sold to civilian buyers, museums, technical schools and the air forces of Chad, Malta and Pakistan.

In December 2015  the last four Alouette, in service with 300 squadron for the “Royal flight”, where officially retired by the Royal Netherlands Air Force from service ending more than 50 years of flying.


Serial Type CN Unit Status Comment PreviousID
A-247 SA316B 1247 300sq Stored    
A-275 SA316B 1275 300sq Stored    
A-292 SA316B 1292 300sq Stored    
A-301 SA316B 1301 300sq Stored    
A-177 SE3160 1177   Civil    
A-208 SE3160 1208   Civil    
A-209 SE3160 1209   to Malta as 9H-ADA  
A-217 SE3160 1217   to France as 1217  
A-218 SE3160 1218   Civil    
A-226 SE3160 1226   Civil    
A-227 SE3160 1227   Civil    
A-235 SE3160 1235   Civil    
A-236 SE3160 1236 298sq   w/o 28aug75  
A-246 SE3160 1246   Stored    
A-253 SE3160 1253   Instr. Airframe Gilze Rijn  
A-254 SE3160 1254 298sq   w/o 08feb80  
A-260 SE3160 1260   Stored Gilze Rijen  
A-261 SE3160 1261   Instr. Airframe VTOC Schiphol  
A-266 SE3160 1266   to Pakistan as 1266  
A-267 SE3160 1267   Preserved Orange  
A-274 SE3160 1274   scrapped    
A-281 SE3160 1281   to France as 1281  
A-282 SE3160 1282 299sq   w/o 17may70  
A-293 SE3160 1293   Instr. Airframe Hoofddorp  
A-302 SE3160 1302   to Chad as 1302  
A-302 SE3160 1302   to Chad as 1302  
A-307 SE3160 1307   Civil    
A-319 SE3160 1319   Instr. Airframe Gilze Rijen  
A-324 SE3160 1324   Civil    
A-336 SE3160 1336   to France as 1336  
A-342 SE3160 1342   to Chad as 1342  
A-343 SE3160 1343   Instr. Airframe Woensdrecht  
A-350 SE3160 1350   Civil    
A-351 SE3160 1351 300sq   w/o 01oct90  
A-366 SE3160 1366   Instr. Airframe Delft  
A-374 SE3160 1374   to France as 1374  
A-382 SE3160 1382 298sq   w/o 13aug70  
A-383 SE3160 1383   to France as 1383  
A-390 SE3160 1390   Civil    
A-391 SE3160 1391   Gilze-Rijen Preserved  
A-398 SE3160 1398   Civil    
A-399 SE3160 1399   to Malta as 9H-ADB  
A-406 SE3160 1406 300sq   w/o 20mar84  
A-407 SE3160 1407   to France as 1407  
A-414 SE3160 1414   to France as A-414  
A-415 SE3160 1415 298sq   w/o 30jul70  
A-451 SE3160 1451   Civil    
A-452 SE3160 1452   Civil    
A-453 SE3160 1453   to France as 1453  
A-464 SE3160 1464   Civil    
A-465 SE3160 1465   Preserved Soesterberg  
A-470 SE3160 1470 300sq   w/o 29jul88  
A-471 SE3160 1471   Civil    
A-482 SE3160 1482   Civil    
A-483 SE3160 1483   Civil    
A-488 SE3160 1488   Civil    
A-489 SE3160 1489   Civil    
A-494 SE3160 1494   Civil    
A-495 SE3160 1495   Civil    
A-499 SE3160 1499   Civil    
A-500 SE3160 1500   Civil    
A-514 SE3160 1514   Civil    
A-515 SE3160 1515   Civil    
A-521 SE3160 1521   Civil    
A-522 SE3160 1522   Instr. Airframe VTOC Schiphol  
A-528 SE3160 1528   Civil    
A-529 SE3160 1529   Civil    
A-535 SE3160 1535   Civil    
A-536 SE3160 1536   Civil    
A-542 SE3160 1542   Civil    
A-543 SE3160 1543 300sq   w/o 20mar84  
A-549 SE3160 1549   Stored    
A-550 SE3160 1550   Stored    
H-08 SE3160 1308 SAR Flt   w/o 08oct71  
H-20 SE3160 1320   Preserved Soesterberg  
H-67 SE3160 1367   to Pakistan as 1367  
H-75 SE3160 1375   to Pakistan as 1375  
H-81 SE3160 1381   to Pakistan as 1381  



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