French Army Gazelle Helicopter Crashes in Ivory Coast Killing Pilot

A French Army Gazelle helicopter crashed about 20km east of Abidjan, the economic capital of Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) on July 10, killing its pilot.

The helicopter was participating in a joint training between French and Ivorian Armed Forces when the accident occurred.

The two injured crew members were transported to the French forces’ medical facility in the country, but the pilot, identified as 25-year-old Lt. Alexandre Arnaud, succumbed to his wounds later the day. The second crew member was airlifted to France for further treatment.

“The Army deeply regrets the death of Lt. Alexandre Arnaud… in Cote d’Ivoire. He died in a flight on a mission during the joint training of French and Ivorian forces,” the army said on Twitter.

“The cause of the accident is still to be determined,” the French army added.

The crashed SA342M Gazelle helicopter belonged to the French Army’s 3rd Combat Helicopter Regiment (3e Régiment d’Hélicoptères de Combat, 3e RHC).

Aérospatiale Gazelle

Aérospatiale Gazelle (company designations SA 340, SA 341 and SA 342) is a French five-seat helicopter, commonly used for light transport, scouting and light attack duties.

Gazelle was designed by Sud Aviation, later Aérospatiale, and manufactured in France and the United Kingdom through a joint production agreement with Westland Aircraft. Further manufacturing under license was performed by SOKO in Yugoslavia and the Arab British Helicopter Company (ABHCO) in Egypt.

It is powered by a single Turbomeca Astazou turbine engine and was the first helicopter to feature a fenestron tail instead of a conventional tail rotor. It

Since being introduced to service in 1973, the Gazelle has been procured and operated by a number of export customers.

In French service, the Gazelle has been supplemented as an attack helicopter by the larger Eurocopter Tiger, but remains in use primarily as a scout helicopter.

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