During April 1956, the first production Alouette II was completed, becoming the first production turbine-powered helicopter in the world. The innovative light helicopter, soon broke several world records and became a commercial success. As a result of the huge demand for the Alouette II, manufacturer Aérospatiale took a great interest in the development of derivatives, as well as the more general ambition of embarking on further advancement in the field of rotorcraft.

In accordance with these goals, the company decided to commit itself to a new development programme with the aim of developing a more powerful helicopter that would be capable of accommodating up to 7 seats or a pair of stretchers. The design team was managed by French aerospace engineer René Mouille. The design produced, which was initially designated as the SE 3160, featured several improvements over the Alouette II; efforts were made to provide for a higher level of external visibility for the pilot as well as for greater aerodynamic efficiency via the adoption of a highly streamlined exterior.

The Aérospatiale Alouette III  is a single-engine, light utility helicopter developed by French aircraft company Sud Aviation. During its production life, it proved to be a relatively popular rotorcraft; including multiple licensed manufacturers, more than 2,000 units were built.

The Alouette III was developed as an enlarged derivative of the earlier and highly successful Alouette II.

Sharing many elements with its predecessor while offering an extra pair of seats and other refinements, it quickly became a commercial success amongst both civil and military customers.

Further variants were also developed; amongst these was a high-altitude derivative, designated as the SA 315B Lama, which entered operational service during July 1971.

The Alouette III was principally manufactured by Aérospatiale; the type was also built under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in India as the HAL Chetak, by Industria Aeronautică Română (IAR) in Romania as the IAR 316 and F+W Emmen in Switzerland.

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