Denmark has deployed two EH101 helicopters to Mali, where they are supporting the French-led Operation Barkhane counter-terrorism effort.
The two EH101 along with 70 support personnel have been deployed to Gao in eastern Mali since mid-December 2019. They are tasked with transportation duties.
The helicopters will be deployed until December 2020 as part of Denmark’s first contribution to Operation Barkhane. Although based in Mali, they may be sent throughout the region to countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and Mauritania.
“The EH101 helicopter has a large transport capacity and will make a difference in Operation Barkhane. At the same time, it will make everyday life more secure and flexible for the soldiers on the ground, because it is significantly more dangerous to transport on land than in the air”, said Colonel Lieutenant Martin Birkedahl Nielsen, head of the Operations Staff Air Operations Section.
Although new to Operation Barkhane, Denmark has provided aircraft for French-led efforts in the Sahel, starting with a C-130 in 2013 for Operation Serval in Mali. The Danish Parliament approved the military contribution to Operation Barkhane in October 2019.
Denmark has also contributed to the United Nation’s mission in Mali, MINUSMA, since 2014 and has twice provided a C-130J transport aircraft for the mission, most recently in 2017. In 2016, Danish special operation forces were part of a Dutch Task Group in the Gao region in Mali. The primary tasks consisted of patrol activities, monitoring tasks and area analysis. In 2015-2016 a Danish major general served as force commander for MINUSMA. In addition, Denmark has provided substantial financial support to MINUSMA. Currently, Denmark contributes with three staff officers to the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the Danish military said.
Currently, Denmark contributes a C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft to MINUSMA as part of a rotation concept with Belgium, Norway and Portugal where the participating countries send a transport aircraft to MINUSMA for around six months each. The Danish transport aircraft was deployed in mid-November 2019 and will be part of MINUSMA until mid-May 2020.
In October 2019, the Danish Parliament decided to continue the Danish engagement in MINUSMA with two new deployments: Firstly a personnel contribution of up to 10 persons to gather information for MINUSMA. Placed in Gao in Mali the personnel contribution is planned to be deployed from early 2020 until the end of the year.