France AAE Fennec Licorne Yamoussoukro 19.12.13 2 640French Army helicopter crew arrested in Equatorial Guinea

Six French soldiers were detained at Bata airport (Equatorial Guinea) on 29 July 2021, after having landed their Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace (AAE, French Air and Space Force) AS555AN Fennec the day before to refuel.

"They landed on Wednesday at 14:15 hrs (LT) because they had ran out of fuel. At that moment began a sequence of red tape, "according to Colonel Pascal Ianni, spokesman for the French Armed Forces. The Equatorial Guinean state radio TVGE said the helicopter landed without permission. The national authorities do not exclude that this military incident is an operation of espionage and provocation of Paris.

French authorities say there are no espionage cases "and that they have all the necessary permits. We regularly stop in Bata, but we also regularly have coordination problems with Bata airport.

The two countries are entering a negotiation phase. It should be remembered that the French Court of Cassation confirmed the conviction of the vice-president of Equatorial Guinea and the confiscation of his property laundered in France, which will be returned to his country.

The Fennec belongs to Escadron de Transport 55 (ET00.055) Ouessant and is based at Libreville/Leon M'Ba Guy Pidoux air base (Gabon). The air base is also known as Élément d'Air 470 (EA 470, Air Element 470). The helicopter stuck in Bata was involved in a mission between Douala (Cameroon) and Libreville (Gabon). No details were given on the identity of the Fennec.

Photo (just illustrative) by Jean François Auran

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