The SA 330 Puma was originally developed by Sud Aviation to meet a requirement of the French Army for a medium-sized all-weather helicopter. The helicopter also had to be capable of operating by day and night as well as in a wide variety of climates.
In 1967, the Puma was also selected by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and given the designation Puma HC Mk.1. As a result of this decision, the SA 330 was included in a joint production agreement between Aerospatiale and Westland Helicopters of the UK.
The first of two Puma prototypes flew on 15 April 1965. Six pre-production models were also built, the last of which flew on 30 July 1968.
The first production SA 330 Puma flew in September 1968. Two years later, in 1970, Sud Aviation merged with Nord Aviation and SÉREB to form Aérospatiale, and the helicopter has been associated with that name ever since, though it still retained the "SA" (for "Sud Aviation") model designator. On 25 April 1978 the SA 330J Puma achieved the distinction of becaming the first helicopter outside the (then) Soviet Union to be certificated for all-weather operations, including icy conditions.
In 1980 the Lebanese air force received french made "Puma" helicopters. These are big helicopters which can accommodate 24 passengers.