The two NH90 transport helicopters Belgium is providing to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) have arrived in Africa.
The Belgian ministry of defence said the two helicopters were flown from Melsbroek airport aboard a leased Volga Dnepr An-124-100 transport aircraft on 5 February. The helicopters, which had to be partially disassembled, were reassembled in Bamako and flown to Gao in the northeast of the country where they will be based.
Ahead of the deployment to Mali, a Belgian NH90 took part in Exercise Duster in Fassberg, northern Germany, in January. As the Belgian detachment will cooperate with the Germans who are already active in Mali, the exercise saw a Belgian and German NH90 working together.
Belgium’s NH90s will begin operating in Gao, northern Mali, in early March where the helicopters will mainly be used to transport wounded to specialized emergency stations.
On 23 November 2017 Belgium’s Council of Ministers approved the deployment of the two NH90 helicopters and 50 personnel to Mali. The aircraft will be used for troop transport and medical evacuation. They will be deployed for four months, although this could be extended by another two months, reports Het Laatste Nieuws.
The Belgian NH90s will be used to replace four German NH90s currently deployed there. The Bundeswehr also has four Tiger attack helicopters in Mali.