Last hurrah of the Gazelle?

Grey Havoc

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Gazelle Downed in French Air Raid, Soldier Killed (Aviation Week)

“This was a helicopter raid that began at 4 pm yesterday Paris time,” he said, adding that French units totaling several hundred soldiers were deployed earlier to Bamako to assure the safety of the 5,000 French citizens in the country.

The air raid was supported by two Aerospatiale Gazelle helicopter gunships equipped with 20mm cannons and HOT missiles from the army's 4th combat helicopter regiment, which destroyed four enemy vehicles and forced the militants to retreat. It was unclear whether the Gazelles were equipped with the Viviane thermal imagery system.

“They were stopped and then they retreated,” Le Drian said of the operation, which involved French special forces and equipment based at N'Djamena in Chad, including four Dassault-built Mirage 2000D fighters supported by two KC-135 aerial refueling tankers, with Rafale fighters based in France standing by on alert.

One Gazelle helicopter was downed during the air raid, said Adm. Edouard Guillaud, chief of staff of France's armed forces, and Lt. Damien Boiteux, commander of the helicopter unit, was killed, though it was unclear whether Boiteux was aboard the downed rotorcraft.

The air strikes occurred in tandem with the deployment of several hundred French soldiers to Bamako to assure the safety of France's 5,000 citizens in Mali.
 

Sea Skimmer

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How is one loss, when France still flies several hundred of them, a last hurrah? The US lost around fifty similar OH-58s in Iraq and Afghanistan so far and not only keeps flying them, its seeking a replacement that is basically the same sort of aircraft. I'd expect the Gazelle to keep flying for a long time to come, the newest ones were made in the mid 1990s.


Newer reports say that the aircraft was not exactly shot down, but declared a total loss when it limped back to base. Gunfire hit the cockpit, killed the pilot but not the copilot.
 

Grey Havoc

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AFAIK when creating this thread, the plan under the current French government was to phase out the Gazelle within the next few years, most without replacement, immediate or otherwise. That would have likely made the Mali crisis it's last major conflict, at least in French service, hence 'Last hurrah'. Sorry if my information was out of date.
 

Sea Skimmer

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Even if that is true, it's currently being used by Syria in combat as well with no end and sight, and is being flown by several other nations like Lebanon who are fairly likely to use them in future fighting too. So at most, possible last hurrah of French Gazelles. Even that seems questionable at the rate military interventions involving France have been going recently.
 

Archibald

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Nothing new under the sun ! Gazelle and Tigre are mixed into a high/low end fleet, much like the F-15/F-16 mix in service over the last three decades.
It is also not a coincidence that over the last four decades Djibouti saw the last hurrah of many (obsolete aircrafts in the French Air Force.
Djibouti saw the last Skyraiders (1974 !); the last F-100 (1978); the last Mirage IIIC (1988) and the last Mirage F1C (1995). Today the last Mirage 2000 (-5 and -D) are going to the same place. France tends to wear out its oldest aircrafts in Africa.
 

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