The German military (Bundeswehr) has completed its deployment of Airbus Tiger attack helicopters and NH Industries NH-90 transport helicopters to Gao as part of its contribution to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
The new German Helicopter Detachment (HELIDET) in Mali now consists of four NH-90s and four Tigers.
The first two NH-90s arrived in Gao on 31 January, with the second pair following on 4 February, a German source in Gao told Jane's. They were delivered by an Antonov An-124-100 transport aircraft to Bamako, where they were reassembled and test flown before departing for Gao.
The NH-90s reached an initial operating capability in early March, with two conducting the type's first MEDEVAC sortie, evacuating two MINUSMA civilian drivers who were wounded when their truck hit an improvised explosive device on 1 March.
The Bundeswehr announced that the first two Tigers had been deployed to Gao on 25 March, following a 1,000 km ferry flight from Bamako, where had they arrived aboard an An-124-100 four days earlier. The Antonov also carried 17.2 tonnes of support equipment. The second two Tigers reached Gao on 31 March, a German officer told Jane's.
All four Tigers are the Afghanistan Stabilization German Army Rapid Deployment (ASGARD) configuration, which incorporates engine sand filters, ballistic protection against small arms fire, and an enhanced communication suite.
Once the Tigers are declared operational, they will be able to be used in the escort role. Until then, escorts will be conducted by the NH-90s. The German source in Gao said they are armed with door-mounted .50 heavy machine guns when flying escort missions.
The German helicopters are replacing four Dutch AH-64 Apaches and three CH-47 Chinooks that have been withdrawn after two and a half years of operational use in Mali.
The Dutch Ministry of Defence announced that the Apaches were airlifted home in January, leaving the Chinooks to continue to provide troop transport and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) support until March.
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