The RAF is stepping up its support for Operation Barkhane in Mali.
Three RAF Chinook helicopters from RAF Odiham, supported by around 90 British troops, are now fully operational and are supporting French counter-terrorism operations in Mali.
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.
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.
The helicopters arrived in Mali on 18th July. The deployment follows an agreement between UK Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron in January to further strengthen defence cooperation between the two countries.
Until now, UK support for Operation Barkhane has been limited to RAF strategic air transport flights.