UK deployed three (3) Chinook transport helicopters in Gao, Mali in support of France’s Operation Barkhane counter-terrorism in the Sahel.
The three CH-47 Chinook helicopters are now officially cleared to perform operational missions for the benefit of the French-led Barkhane force, the French Ministry of Defense said on 30 August.
The Chinooks, supported by British troops, are providing niche logistical support to French combat forces conducting counter-terrorism operations as part of counter-terrorism operation.
The helicopters to provide troops with tactical advantage by allowing huge loads by air and making it possible to limit the use of road convoys besides minimizing the risks of these convoys being targeted by improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
The tactical chinook helicopters in Mali have already transported over 40 tonnes of freight and nearly 700 men of the Barkhane force. The helicopters bring to Barkhane force the capability to airlift, in a single turn, up to 5 tonnes of load, or forty armed soldiers, from Gao to mission sites.
In January, Prime Minister Theresa May promised French President Emmanuel Macron that the U.K. would step up its support for France’s Operation Barkhane, which has been battling terrorist groups across the Sahel region since 2014.
Islamist terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda took control of the desert north of Mali in early 2012, exploiting a Taureg separatist uprising.
Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger in 2017 agree to form the 5,000-strong G5 Sahel joint counter-terrorism force tasked to train at least 5,000 troops to work alongside French troops as well as peacekeepers deployed to the U.N.’s MINUSMA stabilization mission in Mali.