By James T. McKenna | July 31, 2017
German officials are investigating the cause of July 26’s crash of an Army Aviation Corps Tiger in the West African nation of Mali that killed two crewmembers.
Germany’s defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, traveled over the weekend to the eastern Mali city of Gao to attend a memorial service for the pilots and visit with troops stationed there. Those troops are assigned to the U.N.’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) peacekeeping mission, as were the helicopter crewmembers.
The Airbus combat helicopter was on a surveillance mission following clashes between armed groups when it was reported to have crashed about 37 nautical miles northeast of Gao. That was the German forces first fatal Tiger crash. No evidence has been cited to date that the helicopter was shot down.
The German defense ministry has said investigators have recovered one of two flight recorders from the helicopter, but it was damaged considerably. Investigators are trying to determine whether they can retrieve data from the recorder.
Germany has about 875 assigned to the 13,000-member MINUSMA mission, which is charged with stabilizing the country and supporting a peace agreement between the government and rebels. Germany's parliament earlier this year approved an increase in the number of troops in Mali to 1,000 after the Netherlands withdrew its helicopters from the mission.
In addition to the Tigers, of which three remain in Mali, Germany has deployed NH90 transports there. That country also has deployed fixed-wing transports and tankers, unmanned aircraft and tanks in Mali, with its forces serving in support and surveillance roles.