© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Abstract This paper deals with the output tracking problem of a MIMO system subjected to a class of actuator faults and unmatched perturbations. The proposed methodology is based on high order sliding mode observation and identification techniques. A dynamic sliding surface is proposed using a backstepping-like design strategy in order to counteract the effects of the unmatched perturbations. Whereas a continuous sliding mode control is designed to steer the states toward the sliding surface. The identified value of the fault is injected to alleviate the control gain while accomplishing fault accommodation. As a consequence, the chattering is attenuated. A simulation example for a 3-DOF helicopter highlights the efficiency of the present method.