French President flies on (made in Italy) VVIP chopper in Saudi Arabia

Last week, we published an article about Marine One helicopter, used by the President of the United States.

As mentioned in the post, one of the things that make Obama’s choppers unique is the fact that they are flown wherever the President needs them, using U.S. Air Force airlifters.

VIP Helicopters, aircraft as well as Presidential cars are often used by some of the world leaders to promote the products of their respective national industry; for instance, for their trips overseas, French Presidents have always counted on a fleet of Airbus planes.

But, as a reader (with much irony) noticed, after being photographed aboard French choppers during a trip in French Guyana, President Hollande somehow failed to obey to the rule of the national product on a recent visit to Saudi Arabia.

Indeed, on arrival in Riyadh, Hollande was met by Crown Prince Salman and took a helicopter to reach the king’s Rawdat Khurayim farm, located 60 kilometers (37 miles) northeast of the capital.

But the helicopter was not a French Cougar or Panther, but an AgustaWestland AW.101.

Irony aside, the video is interesting as it shows one of the two AW.101 VVIP (Very Very Important Person) helicopters used by the government of Saudi Arabia.


India also ordered 12 AW101 VVIP but the procurement has been formally terminated on Jan. 1, 2014 after three helicopters were delivered, due to the bribery claims currently being investigated.

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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.