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Romanian MoD details upcoming deployment to Mali

The Romanian armed forces are to deploy a helicopter unit comprising four IAR 330L Puma aircraft to Gao, Mali, under the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the Romanian Ministry of Defence (MoD) told Jane’s on 12 March.

About 120 personnel will be deployed from late August, although, as explained by the MoD, the unit is only set to become operational on 15 October. The mission will last for a year and will comprise two troop rotations of six months each, the MoD noted.

The aircraft will be tasked with providing medical evacuation (medevac) support and will also carry out troop and cargo transport as well as aerial reconnaissance duties.

The four IAR 330Ls, which are described as search-and-rescue (SAR) configured, are being upgraded for their deployment to Mali, according to the Romanian MoD. No specifics on the upgrade were provided, but it likely includes fitting the helicopters with engine particle filters to prevent dust ingestion and additional armour, as has been typically the case for previous aviation units deployed to Mali.

The three remaining helicopters in the Romanian Air Force’s IAR 330 fleet, which will also be upgraded, will be kept in reserve in Romania and used for training aircrews ahead of the second rotation of personnel to Mali.

Pre-deployment training is ongoing and being conducted in accordance with UN manuals and under UN and NATO standards, the MoD added.

The Romanian helicopter unit will replace the Canadian Task Force Mali currently deployed in Gao, which comprises three Boeing CH-47F transport helicopters and five Bell 412 utility helicopters and is scheduled to withdraw by the end this July.

Romania is to deploy four IAR 330 helicopters to Mali for medevac and utility operations under MINUSMA. (Romanian Air Force)

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