On Monday November 25th 2019 in Mali, thirteen soldiers of the Barkhane force lost their lives.
It is on Tuesday that the French Presidency confirmed indeed the collision of a Tiger combat helicopter and a Cougar-type transport helicopter that crashed during an operation in Mali, in Liptako, Menaka region.
But how could such an incident occur?
The two helicopters were involved in an operation to support the commandos of the Barkhane force, which mobilized 4,500 soldiers in the Sahel, since 2013. And it was during this “combat operation” that the two helicopters collided.
In all likelihood, a collision between these two aircraft operating at very low altitude would be at the origin of the accident, “wrote the Ministry of the Armed Forces. “Engaged on the ground for a few days, the commandos tracked down a group of terrorists, identified a few hours earlier, who progressed into using pickups and motorcycles,” added the ministry. A Cougar helicopter was then deployed to coordinate all the mouvements”, and to ensure” the immediate extraction “of a soldier or a terrorist in case of need, underlines the staff.
Around 07:40om, as they were preparing, according to the Army to enlist the enemy, “the Cougar helicopter and a Tiger collided, crashing close to each other “. None of the soldiers on board survived making one of the heaviest human tolls suffered by the French army since the bombing of Drakkar in Beirut in 1983.
An investigation has been launched to know the exact causes and circumstances of this accident.
Among the victims are Captains Nicolas Mégard and Benjamin Gireud Clement Frisonroche, Lieutenants Alex Morisse and Pierre Bockel (son of former French Minister and Senator Jean-Marie Bockel), Chief Warrant Officer Julien Carette Brigadier-in-Chief Romain Salles de St.Paul.
In addition, the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, wished to convey his condolences to the families of the victims.