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RAF Chinook helicopters start supporting French troops in Mali

Three Royal Air Force Chinook helicopters, supported by around 90 British personnel are now fully operational and are supporting French counter-terrorism operations in Mali, the UK Minister of Defence said on August 16, 2018.

RAF Chinook helicopters start supporting French troops in Mali 001 A RAF Chinook heavy lift chopper at Gao Air Base, Mali
(Credit: RAF/UK Ministry of Defence)

The helicopters, from RAF Odiham, are providing niche logistical support to French combat forces conducting counter-terrorism operations as part of Operation Barkhane. UK forces have built three temporary aircraft hangers on the ground, enabling the Chinooks to fly multiple missions each week.

"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," the British Armed Forces minister Mark Lancaster said.

The deployment is in addition to the UK’s long-standing support of UN, EU and G5 Sahel Joint Force operations in Mali aimed at preventing extremists from using the ungoverned space in the Sahel to plan and launch attacks on Europe, as well as countering the illegal trade in people, drugs, weapons and wildlife.

"This helicopter deployment demonstrates the UK’s commitment to do more in the Sahel, alongside £50m of UK Aid providing lifesaving humanitarian support, and a bigger diplomatic network," the British Minister for Africa Harriett Baldwin said.