Friday, April 12th 2002 - 21:00 UTC

Argentine Puma shot down by american “Stinger” missile.

The mystery surrounding the loss of an Argentine Puma helicopter, shot down during the 1982 Falklands War, has finally been solved.

20 years after hostilities ceased it has been revealed that members of the British SAS, using an American made 'Stinger' surface to air missile, brought AE 508 down, some miles north of Mount Kent, with the loss of 6 lives.

It appears that the 'secrecy' which always surrounds the movements of the SAS, resulted in the long silence which was maintained in the years following the War. SAS officers had no desire to reveal where they were, and what their missions might have been.

On 30 May 1982, between 9 - 10am, Puma AE508 was being employed during the Argentines hasty and unexpected withdrawal from Mount Kent. It was carrying several members of the small Gendarmeria Nacional force, which was deployed to the Islands (Escuadron FEEE6OIGN). At least 4 other Argentine helicopters were operating on the slopes of the mountain, in support of retreating troops.

According to Argentine sources, AE508 was brought down by a 'British missile', but their assertion was doubted by British Military historians. The official 'Falklands - The Air War' book, which was published in 1988, states that, 'No claims were made by the British Forces therefore it is conceivable that the Puma was brought down in error by Argentine Forces'. The helicopter which was carrying, in addition to the 6 passengers, a vast amount of ammunition, burst into flames upon impact.

Now, 20 years on, some 2 miles northeast of Mount Kent, a circular area of burnt and scorched ground can still be seen, along with the tail section and rotar blades of the aircraft. Few people have ever visited the site, given the unusual location of the helicopter on the hill side. Amazingly, its crew, which included the Detachment Commander, Primer Teniente Perez Cometto, survived the crash and the War itself, but the 6 passengers perished.

Finally the 20 year old mystery has been solved as members of the SAS, who were hiding in nearby hills, have admitted using the 'Stinger', which they say, 'was better than the British blow-pipe missile', and is also fired from the shoulder.

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