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:
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.
Related articles:Enigma Issue 10: Military Harassment at Alton Barnes
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