The United Kingdom is to extend operations of three Royal Air Force (RAF) Boeing Chinook heavy-lift helicopters that have been deployed to Mali since July 2018, the government announced on 12 June.
Having supported French operations in North Africa since mid-2018, the three UK Chinooks will remain in-theatre for a while longer. (Crown Copyright)
This second extension to the mission will see the Chinook HC.5 (fat tank) helicopters and almost 100 personnel that have provided intra-theatre air mobility support to French forces engaged in the Operation ‘Barkhane’ regional counter-terrorism mission in the Sahel region of West Africa. The RAF did not say for how long the mission is being extended, but the previous occasion saw a further 12 months added.
“The Chinooks and aircrew allow French troops to cover a much larger field of operations, by moving personnel to the French bases spread across Mali, eliminating the need for dangerous road moves, and helping to move vital support equipment to strategic locations,” the RAF said.
France has been engaged in a counter-terrorism campaign throughout the Sahel-Sahara region of northern Africa since 2012, with helicopters supporting the core of combat and air mobility operations.