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SA 330 Puma
AS 532 Cougar

The Puma medium lift helicopter was in production until 1987 featuring many roles including military and civilian. Used in the army as a troop carrier it could seat twelve occupants. As a civilian based helicopter the Puma could seat twenty passengers. A total of 696 Puma's had been sold by the end of manufacture although they are still produced in Romania. The Puma was built by the EUROCOPTER Group, owned 70% by AEROSPATIALE France and 30% by Daimler Aerospace (DASA) of Germany.

The Cougar name was adopted for all military variants, and in 1990, all Super Puma designations were changed from AS 332 to AS 532 to distinguish between civil and military variants. The Cougar was designed to provide high performance, ease of deployment, low operating cost, comfort, plus high mission readiness. For military use and adapting to modern battlefield conditions, it features survivability, suitability for tactical flight thanks to exceptional manoeuvrability, low observability, low vulnerability to projectiles, crashworthiness. A multirole helicopter, the Cougar can be armed with machine-guns and pod-mounted cannons, with rockets, or with antisubmarine or antisurface weapon systems to suit different mission requirements. Additional missions include: VIP transport, electronic warfare, and anti-submarine warfare.

The large, four-blade main rotor is mounted above center of fuselage on a hump. Two turboshaft engines are mounted on top of the fuselage midsection, giving the helicopter a humpbacked appearance. The fuselage is long, rectangular, upswept, with a tapered rear section, a rounded, stepped-up, glassed-in cockpit and retractable landing gear. Swept-back and tapered tail fin mounts a rotor on the right and a tapered, single flat on left top of the fin.

The Turbomeca Makila 1A1 turboshafts engines, of modular design and low specific fuel consumption, endows the Cougar with impressive power (2 x 1877 shp). Coupled with exceptionally short response times, contributing to the machine's tactical flight capability. The rotors blades are made of composite materials throughout. By comparison with blades incorporating metallic components, this makes for unsurpassed serviceability, low vulnerability, an unlimited useful life and imperviousness to marine corrosion. Other innovations include a simplified main rotor hub, a main gearbox of modular design and a high-energy-absorption landing-gear contributing to the machine's crashworthiness.

The Cougar can also be equipped with jet diluters for protection against heat-seeking missiles, with infrared and electromagnetic countermeasures, crashworthy seats for pilot and military personnel, armorplate for crew seats and vital parts of the machine, a 4.5 metric-ton capacity sling and a winch capable of hoisting 245 kg.


The Cougar name was adopted for all military variants, and in 1990, all Super Puma designations were changed from AS 332 to AS 532 to distinguish between civil and military variants. The “5” denotes military, “A” is armed, “C” is armed-antitank, and “U” is utility. The second letter represents the level of “upgrading”.

AS 532UL Cougar Mk I UL/Horizon

The Horizon system (Helicoptre d'Observation Radar et d'Investigation sur Zone) consists of the AS 532UL Cougar and a ground station. The Cougar helicopter operates behind the front line at an altitude of up to 4000 meters to survey the battlefield with the Thomson-CSF Target radar. This X-band radar with a swivelling antenna below the rear fuselage has a range resolution of approximately 40 meters and a target velocity accuracy of +/- seven km/h. In snapshot mode the radar can scan 20000 sq km in ten seconds. Horizon is able to survey the movements of up to 4000 wheeled or tracked vehicles at distances of up to 200 km. The French Army procured a total of four helicopters and two ground stations, which were delivered in 1996 and 1997. This represented a major reduction from the original 1980s plan in which 20 aircraft were to be procured uner the Orchidée program, which was canceled after the first flight of the fully equipped prototype in 1990. Following test missions during the Gulf War, the program was reactivated on a reduced scale in 1993.

First flight :

1994 ( demonstrated during the operations in the Gulf in 1991)

In-service in the French Army :

Deliveries between 1996 and 1998

Special equipment :

Moving Target Indicator radar (Thomson-CSF), scanning a 20,000 km² zone in 10 seconds

High jamming resistance

Major operational capabilities :

Detection and localisation of vehicles, boats and helicopters up to 200 km

In real time, protected transmission of data to the ground and on-board exploitation

Air deployable ground station

NATO interoperability :

Proposed system for the future NATO Ground Surveillance program

Demonstrated interoperability with the US J-STARS

French Army inventory :

4 helicopters and 2 ground stations

Typical mission

Radar recce of mobiles (detection of vehicules moving in Kosovo), intelligence transmitted in real time to the command center.


Variants in “( )”
Country of Origin France/Germany
RoleArmed transport
Similar AircraftSuper Frelon, HH-3E Jolly Green Giant, SH-3 Sea King, CH-53 Sea Stallion, Mi-8 Hip, UH-60 Black Hawk
Date of Introduction 1981
Blades Main rotor: 4
Tail rotor: 5, 4 (U2/A2)
Rotor Diameter Main Rotor : 14 m (Puma) 15.6-16.2 m (U2/A2)
Tail Rotor : 3.1-3.2 m (U2/A2)
Length 18.7-19.5 m (U2/A2) (rotors turning)
15.5 m (UC/AC), 16.3 m (UL/AL), 16.8 m (U2/A2) (fuselage)
Height 4.6 m
Width 3.6-3.8 m (U2/A2)
Cargo Compartment Floor Length: 6.5 m (AC/UC), 6.8 m (UL/AL), 7.9 m (U2/A2)
Width: 1.8 m
Height: 1.5
Weight Maximum Gross: 9,000 kg (Mk I), 9,750 kg (Mk II)
Normal Takeoff: 8,600 kg (Mk I), 9,300 kg (Mk II)
Empty: 4,330 kg (UC/AC), 4,460 kg (UL/AL), 4,760 kg (U2/A2)
Standard Payload Internal load: 3,000 kg
External on sling only: 4,500 kg
Transports 20-29 troops or 6-12 litters (variant dependant), or cargo.
Engine 2x 1,877-shp Turbomeca Makila 1A1 turboshaft
Maximum speed 275 km/h (Mk I), 325 km/h (Mk II)
Cruising speed 249-270 km/h
Range 769 km-416 n.m.
800 km-432 n.m AS 532 UL/AL
Normal Load: 620 km (UC/AC), 840 km (UL/AL), 800 km (U2/A2)
With Aux Fuel: 1,017 km (UC/AC), 1, 245 km (UL/AL), 1,176 km (U2/A2)
Fuel Internal: 1,497 liters (UC/AC), 2,000 liters (UL/AL), 2,020 liters (U2/A2)
Internal Aux Tank: 475 liters ea. (4x Mk I, 5xMk II)
Service Ceiling 4,100 m
Hover out of ground effect: 1,650 m (Mk I), 1,900 m (Mk II)
in ground effect: 2,800 m (Mk I), 2,540 m (Mk II)
Vertical Climb Rate 7 m/s
  • 7.65-mm MG
  • 2 - 20-mm twin gun pods
  • 2 - 68-mm rocket pods (22 each)
  • 2 - 2.75-in rocket pods (19 each)
  • 600 liters External fuel tanks

    The Mk I variants may employ 2x 7.65-mm machine guns on pintle-mounts in the cabin doors when employed in a transport role. The armed versions have side-mounted 20-mm machineguns and/or axial pods fitted with 68-mm rocket launchers.
  • Survivability/Countermeasures Main and tail rotor blades electrically deiced. A radar warning receiver is standard, while a laser warning receiver, missile launch detector, missile approach detector, infrared jammer, decoy launcher, and flare/chaff dispensers are optionally available.
    Special equipment Armour plates for the cargo, PLS (Personal Locator System), GPS (Global Positioning System), chaff/flare dispensers, RWR (radar warning receiver), MWS (Missile approach warning system)
    AVIONICS The aircraft is NVG compatible, and through its instruments, avionics, full autopilot, and nav computer, is capable of operation in day, night, and instrument meteorological conditions.
    Crew 2 (pilots)
    User CountriesAt least 38 countries : Algeria, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chad, Chile, China, Djibouti, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Germany, Iceland, Indonesia, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malawi, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Portugal, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Switzerland, Togo, United Arab Emirates, UK, Zaire

    Puma / Cougar Mk I UC/AC

    Super Puma / Cougar

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    Maintained by Robert Sherman
    Originally created by John Pike
    Updated Monday, June 26, 2000 2:05:40 PM