French army helicopter crash kills two soldiers, injures five

Eric Salard

An Airbus AS532 Cougar helicopter of the French army crashed in the Pyrenees with seven soldiers on board. Two were killed, the other five were injured.

The helicopter belonged to the 5th Combat Helicopter Regiment based in Pau, southwestern France. On April 15, 2020, the Cougar was carrying out a hoist exercise in the area northeast of Tarbes, according to Colonel Benoît Brulon, the spokesman for the French Army.

For an unknown reason, the Cougar crashed, and caught fire. Two soldiers were killed, and the other five were injured. Two of them were transported to a nearby hospital in critical conditions. An investigation has been opened to determine the causes of the crash.

The Eurocopter AS532 Cougar is an assault transport helicopter derived from the SA330 Puma. It entered service in 1990. The helicopter can transport up to 21 soldiers or, when in medical evacuation configuration, six people lying and four seated. 

The helicopters of the 5th Combat Helicopter Regiment recently transported patients with coronavirus as part of Operation Resilience to spread out the pressure on French hospitals.

The regiment was already bereaved on November 25, 2019, when thirteen French soldiers died in an accident involving two helicopters in Mali. The two aircraft were taking part in combat operations against jihadists.


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