- Oct 9, 2009
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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.