In October 2016 the Central African nation of Mali received the first of two H215 Super Puma transport helicopters bought from AirBus. The second one will arrive by the end of the year. The Puma and Super Puma have long been popular helicopters in Africa. The H215is similar to the American UH-60 and Russian Mil-17 and until late 2015 the H215 was known as the AS232 Super Puma. The nine ton, twin engine, H215 can carry up to 25 passengers or four tons of cargo. Top speed is 277 kilometers an hour, cruise speed is 247 kilometers an hour and endurance is 3-4 hours. H215s cost about $17 million each. This is a civilian version of the Super Puma, and is primarily used for search and rescue. The AS232 entered service in the early 1980s and has been bought by dozens of nations for civilian and military use.
Originally introduced by a French firm as the Puma in the late 1960s, it was the European answer to the American UH-1 “Huey” (and the civilian model the Bell 204) that appeared in the late 1950s and revolutionized helicopter design with its use of more efficient gas turbine engines and many other subsequent innovations. The Bell 204/5 ad UH-1 is still in wide use even though production ceased in the 1980s.