2018/08/21 – 3 Chinook helicopters from RAF Odiham are now fully operational in Mali, ready to support Operation Barkhane, the French counter-terrorism mission.
They’re providing ‘niche logistical support’ to the 4,000 French troops spread across the ‘G5 Sahel’: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.
The deployment was announced back in January when Prime Minister Theresa May met French President Emmanuel Macron. The helicopters arrived in July, supported by over 90 British troops.
‘This deployment demonstrates the vital role our Armed Forces play, working alongside our French allies to tackle terrorism and reduce threats to European and UK security’ Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster
It is widely understood that the UK offered the Chinook to make up for shortfalls in French helicopter numbers.
The MoD deployment is complemented by ‘£50m of UK Aid providing lifesaving humanitarian support’, according to Minister for Africa Harriett Baldwin MP.
The UK has consistently supported UN and EU military operations in Mali in recent years. The intention is to prevent extremists of any nature from operating in the anarchic Sahel region, and in particular to prevent them planning attacks on Europe.
UK Defence Journal / Sahel-Elite Photo by Adrian Pingstone