When French Air Force Destroyed Entire Ivorian Air Force

When French Air Force Destroyed Entire Ivorian Air Force
Credits: Unknown via Tom Antonov

In 2004, an armed conflict took place between France and Côte d’Ivoire in which French Airforce destroyed entire Ivorian Airforce.

On 6 November 2004, Ivorians launched an air attack on French peacekeepers in the northern part of Côte d’Ivoire who were stationed there as part of Opération Licorne (Unicorn), the French military operation in support of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).

Two Ivorian Sukhoi Su-25 bombers, crewed by two Belarusian mercenaries and two Ivorian pilots, fired on the Ivorian rebels led by Issiaka Ouattara.

One of the bombers attacked the French peacekeeping position in the town at 1 pm, killing nine French soldiers and wounding 31. An American development worker, reported to have been a missionary, was also killed.

The Ivorian government claimed the attack on the French was unintentional, but the French insisted that the attack had been deliberate

French military forces subsequently clashed with Ivorian troops and government-loyal mobs, destroying the entire Ivorian Air Force.

President Jacques Chirac ordered the destruction of the two Ivorian jets. At 2:20 pm, the Su-25s landed at Abidjan airport and were destroyed by MILAN missiles fired by soldiers of the 2nd Marine Infantry Regiment, garrisoned at the airport. The French were then attacked by an Ivorian Mil Mi-24 helicopter gunship, but repelled it with machine gun fire.

At 3 pm, armed mobs of Ivorians loyal to the government took to the streets of Abidjan to protest against France and began to mass near the airport and near the 43rd Marine Infantry Batalion [fr] base.

At Abidjan’s airport, French and Ivorian troops exchanged fire, and a French Transall C-160 military transport plane was damaged by RPGs at 4 pm.

The remaining aircraft of the Ivorian air force (two other Su-25s, two Mi-24s and one BAC Strikemaster) were destroyed on direct orders from General Henri Poncet [fr], before Ivorian protesters entered the terminal. Meanwhile, two Mi-24s and one Mil Mi-8 were “annihilated” in Yamoussoukro presidential palace.

This incidents were followed by massive anti-French protests in Côte d’Ivoire

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