When I first was asked if I had news about the episode I thought of a hoax. I could not believe that any NATO chopper involved in Operation Unified Protector would ever dare to land on a beach with the risk to be hit by MANPADS, RPG, guns presumed to be smuggled from Gaddafi’s depots, unless it was compelled to do so because of a failure. I was wrong.
Look at the following video. One of the two French Tiger helicopters (without any evident escort or cover) lands on a Libyan beach to pick up a flag from a young girl.
It’s at least a curious episode and I can’t find a reasonable explaination for it.
That kind of helicopter operated off the Mistral ship until it was relieved by Tonnerre on Sept. 18. According to the information made available by the French MoD at the beginning of September the helicopters on board Mistral had flown about 280 combat sorties claiming the destruction of no less but 500 targets.
The French helicopters (including Gazelle and Puma) flew their sorties mainly at night and often came under fire from a wide range of weapons: from light and heavy machine guns, to ZSU-23-4s and ZU-23s, to MANPADs. None was damaged. Still, this doesn’t mean they can’t be hit and landing on a beach without any escort or top cover can be extremely dangerous.
Another episode of a marketing/propaganda campaign?