A Eurocopter AS532 Cougar helicopter operated by the French Army crashed north of Tarbes in the vicinity of Bouilh-Devant in Hautes-Pyrénées, southwestern France during a training mission, on April 15.
There were seven personnel on board the Cougar which was participating in a helicopter hoist exercise and two of them were killed in the incident. The remaining five were injured.
The deceased was identified as Chief Warrant Officer Olivier Michel and of Brigadier Vincent Monguillon assigned to the French Army Light Aviation (viation légère de l’Armée de terre, ALAT)’s 5th Combat Helicopter Regiment (5e Régiment d’Hélicoptères de Combat, 5e RHC) based in Pau, Pyrénées-Atlantiques.
Profonde tristesse de l’@armeedeterre à l’annonce du décès de l’adjudant-chef Olivier MICHEL et du brigadier Vincent MONGUILLON du 5e RHC au cours d’un vol d’entraînement. Toutes mes pensées vont à leurs familles, aux 5 camarades blessés et à l’ensemble de leurs frères d’armes. pic.twitter.com/1HF0KgU3K7
— Chef d’état-major de l’armée de Terre (@CEMAT_FR) April 15, 2020
The precise circumstances of the accident remain to be established, said a statement from the French Ministry of Armed Forces.
Florence Parly, the Minister of the Armed Forces, expressed her condolences to the families, relatives and brothers in arms of the soldiers who lost their lives in this accident. She expressed full support of the defense community, in particular the Army.
J’ai appris avec émotion et tristesse la mort de deux militaires du 5e RHC, dans un accident d’hélicoptère près de Tarbes. Toutes mes pensées vont à leurs familles, proches, frères d’armes. Ce drame nous rappelle l’engagement de tout militaire qui consacre sa vie à la France. pic.twitter.com/C9jW3MaO7v
— Florence Parly (@florence_parly) April 15, 2020
The Minister also thanked the rescue forces and health personnel, who intervened quickly at the scene of the accident.
“Despite the current COVID-19 crisis, their commitment was exemplary and made it possible to immediately take care of the five injured. The Minister wishes them a speedy recovery”, said the statement.
The Eurocopter AS532 Cougar (now Airbus Helicopters H215M) is a twin-engine, medium-weight, multipurpose helicopter developed by France. The AS532 is a development and upgrade of the Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma in its militarized form. Its civilian counterpart is the Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma. The AS532 has been further developed as the Eurocopter EC725.