An M-24 attack helicopter crashed in northern Ivory Coast while on a reconnaissance mission near the border with Burkina Faso, killing all five crew members, the country’s defence ministry said on Friday.
An investigation has been opened to determine the cause of the crash during the night of 9/10 September, the ministry said in a statement.
Ivory Coast’s borderlands with Burkina Faso have emerged as hotspots of insecurity in the past year following several attacks by Islamist militants believed to be linked to al Qaeda.
The Ivory Coast has lost several Mi-24s to crashes in recent years. On 27 November 2019, an Mi-24D (TU-VHR) was lost in a collision with an Mi-17 parked on the ground at Katiola during a visit by president Ouattara. The Mi-24D was written off while the Mi-17, belonging to the Presidential Flight, sustained repairable damage.
Then on 18 March 2020, another Mi-24D (TU-VHO) came down at Felix Houphouet Boigny airport in Abidjan. The aircraft sustained moderate damage, coming to rest on its side. Both pilots received minor injuries and could escape the helicopter by themselves.
It is believed that the Ivory Coast only had two serviceable Mi-24s in service along with AW139 and AS365N helicopters. Transport aircraft in the fleet include An-26B, Beech 350, C295W, Airbus A319, Beech 1900D, Gulfstream III, IV and G550 aircraft.
Replacements were ordered for the two crashed Mi-24s, with the first arriving on 7 August 2020 and the second was observed being loaded aboard an Ilyushin Il-76 transport aircraft in Bulgaria on 27 January 2021 ahead of delivery. Both Mi-24 helicopters are believed to be ex-Bulgarian Air Force examples.