The Tigre attack helicopter and Cougar military transport collided mid-air while they were supporting ground forces engaging insurgents near the borders of Burkina Faso and Niger.
Thirteen French soldiers were killed when an Aviation Légère de l’Armée de Terre (ALAT, French Army Aviation) EC665 Tigre attack helicopter and an AS532UL Cougar transport helicopter accidentally collided during an operation against jihadists in Mali on Nov. 25, 2019 the French president’s office said.
The Tigre and Cougar collided mid-air while they were supporting ground forces engaging insurgents near the borders of Burkina Faso and Niger.
Various news outlets initially mentioned the NH90-TTH Caiman, a different type of transport helicopter, also in use by the ALAT in Mali. To be more complete, ALAT SA330 Puma and EC725 also replayed to Mali.
According to Scramble Magazine, the helicopters belong to the 5 Régiment d’Hélicoptères de Combat (5 RHC), normally based at Pau/Pyrénées (France) and were deployed in support of Operation Barkhane to Bamako/Sénou (Mali). The crew members and passengers are from a mix of units of 5 RHC, 4e Régiment de chasseurs de Gap, 93e Régiment d’artillerie de montagne de Varces and 2e Régiment étranger de génie de Saint-Christol.
Among the dead was the son of centrist Senator Jean-Marie Bockel, the politician told the AFP news agency.
“These 13 heroes had only one goal: to protect us,” President Macron wrote in a tweet. “I bow my head to their loved ones and comrades.”
The accident took place in the Menaka region of southeastern Mali, an area where the Malian armed forces and Operation Barkhane troops have been conducting anti-terrorist operations for weeks against armed groups harassing garrisons and spread terror among local populations.
In 2013, France deployed thousands of troops to Mali after Islamist militants seized huge parts of the north.
France now has 4,500 troops deployed to support the forces of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad against Islamist militants.
Another French soldier, Brig Ronan Pointeau, was killed earlier this month after an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated near his vehicle.
In total, 38 French soldiers have been killed in Mali since the country first intervened.
Photo Credit: ALAT