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Enigma Issue 12: Helicopter Harassment Follow-up

by Paul Vigay | Winter 1996/97

Since I published the photograph, taken by Kerry Blower, of the dangerously low-flying helicopter in the Alton Barnes area of Wiltshire (see Enigma 10) I have received numerous letters and emails from various people offering identification and information regarding the helicopter in question.

The helicopter has been identified as an Aerospatiale SA 341/342 "Gazelle" military helicopter (Jane's Helicopter Markets and Systems, 1996 edition).

There are several versions which are built for the British, French, and Kuwait military forces. These are:

  1. British Army version SA 341B
  2. British Navy SA 341C
  3. Royal Air Force SA 341D and SA 341E
  4. French Army version SA 341F,L1,M
  5. French Civil version SA 341G
  6. Military Export version SA 341H,J,L
  7. SA 341K Military version supplied to Kuwait

This helicopter has been in production since 1968 and 1,254 have been delivered to customers.

Although there was a civilian model built, the helicopter causing the harassment at Alton Barnes was almost certainly the military version, not least because of it's camouflage markings and amount of hi-tech equipment on board, but also because of a tell-tale sign of a small black box above the canopy. This is probably one of the different aiming mechanisms (perhaps even laser rangefinder) for air launched anti-tank missiles, which may be fitted to the helicopter.

Keep your comments coming in and I will report in future issues if I receive any more up to date information.

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