Aerospatiale Super Frelon

The AĆ©rospatiale (formerly Sud Aviation) SA 321 Super Frelon ("Super Hornet") is a three-engined heavy transport helicopter produced by aerospace manufacturer Sud Aviation (later AĆ©rospatiale) of France. It held the distinction of being the most powerful helicopter to be built in Europe at one point, as well as being the world's fastest helicopter.

The Super Frelon was a more powerful development of the original SE.3200 Frelon, which had failed to enter production. On 7 December 1962, the first prototype conducted the type's maiden flight. On 23 July 1963, a modified Super Frelon flew a record-breaking flight, setting the new FAI absolute helicopter world speed record with a recorded speed of 217.7 mph (350.4 km/h). Both civilian and military versions of the Super Frelon were produced; the type was predominantly sold to military customers. In 1981, Aerospatiale, Sud Aviation's successor company, chose to terminate production due to a lack of orders.

The Super Frelon was most heavily used by naval air arms, such as the French Navy and the People's Liberation Army Naval Air Force. On 30 April 2010, the type was retired by the French Navy, having been replaced by a pair of Eurocopter EC225 helicopters as a stopgap measure pending the availability of the NHIndustries NH90 helicopter. The Super Frelon was in use for an extended period within China, where it was manufactured under license and sold by the Harbin Aircraft Industry Group as the Harbin Z-8. A modernised derivative of the Z-8, marketed as the Avicopter AC313, performed its first flight on 18 March 2010.