The first elements of China's first peacekeeping helicopter unit have arrived in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum to join the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
The first 12 members of the 140 strong unit arrived in the African country on 11 June along with the first two of four Mi-171 multirole medium helicopters that will be used to carry out air patrols and transport personnel and materials, the Xinhua news agency reported that same day.
The rest of the unit, which is part of the 81st Group Army of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), will be deployed in batches.
"Soon these helicopters will be deployed in the Darfur region to take part in the peacekeeping operations there," Guan Aibing, the military attaché at the Chinese Embassy in Khartoum, was quoted by the Xinhua news agency as saying.
As Jane's reported in October 2016, China's contribution of helicopters to support UNAMID will be welcomed. The United Nations struggles to persuade contributing nations to deploy helicopters, which are invaluable in many peacekeeping operations.
The platforms enable personnel to be transported quickly and often at less risk than using conventional vehicles.
In July 2016 two Chinese peacekeepers from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) were killed when the armoured vehicle they were travelling in came under fire.
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