Africa

RAF Chinook Conducts Heavy Lift Operation In Mali

The helicopter was assisting Operation Barkhane, the French counter-insurgency operation in the West African Sahel region.

A Royal Air Force Chinook has delivered heavy equipment in Mali.

The aim of the delivery was to extend French and Malian forces' operational range as part of Operation Barkhane.

The Chinook, from 1310 Flight, lifted a large fuel container 25 nautical miles to a Forward Operating Base, allowing ground and air reconnaissance missions to operate at a greater distance from Gao, Mali.

The lifting operation required several days of planning before personnel and the crew of CH-47 were able to sling the container and transport it to the camp.

Three Chinooks form 1310 Flt and are operated by 27 Squadron, from RAF Odiham, Hampshire, with supporting elements from the Tactical Supply Wing and Joint Helicopter Support Squadron.

Lieutenant Colonel Steve Brining, UK National Component Commander, said the UK’s contribution enables both French and Malian forces to operate at range and "remain resupplied".

"The key to our success has been the full integration of 1310 Flt with the French GTD-A (Groupement Tactique Desert – Aerocombat), and latterly, the Danish Aviation Detachment, to integrate our Chinooks with the Danish Merlin and French, Cougar, Puma Tiger, Gazelle and Caiman helicopters," he said.

The Chinook lifted a large fuel container 25 nautical miles to a Forward Operating Base (Picture: RAF).

This integration was demonstrated on a recent operation that saw an RAF Chinook fly in formation with a Danish Merlin and a French Caiman helicopter to extract French infantry.

The troops, located south of Gao, were being transported following the conclusion of their task and the whole formation was escorted by two French Tiger helicopters.

Colonel Sylvain, the French Commander of the Groupement Tactique Desert – Aerocombat, said their aim was to provide direct support to ground units.

Additionally, he said the GTD-A also looks to provide MEDEVAC and have the ability to conduct operations against armed terrorist groups.

"Given the huge scale of Mali and the operating area, these tasks are achieved on a daily basis by French, British and Danish aviation aircrew and aircraft," he said.

"The excellent degree of operational success illustrates the exceptional levels of integration and synergy between the three nations."

"It is a fantastic example of teamwork with a common mindset."

Cover image: RAF Chinook in Mali providing support to Operation Barkhane, the French counter-insurgency operation in the West African Sahel region (Picture: RAF).