Germany to deploy CH-53 helicopters to Mali


The German military will later this year deploy five CH-53 helicopters and 120 personnel to Gao, Mali, in support of the United Nations mission there.

The German Air Force in mid-January said the helicopter contingent, with up to 120 personnel and five CH-53 helicopters, will be deployed to Mali from mid-2022. A United Nationals Assessment and Advisory Team is coordinating the deployment.

The CH-53G helicopters will come from Helicopter Wing 64 (Hubschraubergeschwader 64), which flies CH-53G and H145M rotorcraft.

In the past, Germany has provided the UN mission in Mali (Minusma) with NH90 transport and Tiger attack helicopters.

Up to 1 350 German military personnel are deployed with the European Union Training Mission and Minusma in Mali. However, their future in the country is somewhat uncertain following the May 2021 coup there and delayed elections – Germany will by May decide whether or not to extend its mission in Mali. However, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said last weekend that the German military will remain in Mali as long as the Russian mercenary group Wagner operates there.

Last week, a German Air Force A400M airlifter was denied permission to land in Mali, while several Minusma flights had been barred as Mali started to block some peacekeeping flights. After UN talks with the ruling junta, flights were subsequently allowed.

Denmark will start pulling its troops out of Mali after the West African country’s transitional government this week insisted on an immediate withdrawal. The decision comes amid tension between Mali and its international partners including regional bodies and the European Union that have sanctioned Mali after the junta failed to organise elections. Sweden will leave Mali in March.

The junta’s decision to ask Denmark to leave is likely to impact future deployments, with Norway, Hungary, Portugal, Romania and Lithuania set to send troops this year.