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French Army grounds Cougars

21st January 2009 - 09:45 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


The French Army has grounded its fleet of Eurocopter Cougars following an accident off the coast of Gabon that killed eight.

Two soldiers survived the accident which happened shortly after the helicopter, carrying 10 soldiers, including six special forces paratroopers took off from the French helicopter carrier La Foudre during joint military exercises with the Gabon armed forces at the weekend.

The Cougar came down off Nyogne, a village between the west African country's capital, Libreville, and the oil port of Port Gentil.

The wreckage lies in 35 metres of water, and will be raised in the next few days.

The French military has temporarily grounded its fleet of 17 Cougar helicopters until the investigation determines whether they have a technical fault.

"This is a precautionary step that is routinely taken every time an incident takes place on a aircraft," said armed forces spokesman Colonel Benoit Royal.

The French army said it could draw on its 95 Puma and eight Caracal helicopters while the Cougars, which have been in service for an average of 16 years, are grounded.

The Shephard News Team


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