Germany has started deploying eight NH90 transport and Tiger attack helicopters to Mali after receiving approval for the helicopters and additional soldiers from the German cabinet.
An NH90 helicopter configured for medical evacuation was flown to Bamako, Mali, on 27 January by an Antonov An-124-100, reports IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, which notes that it will be followed by three more NH90s and four Tigers. After arriving in Bamako, the helicopters will fly 1 200 km to Gao in support of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
Germany’s cabinet on 11 January approved the deployment of the eight attack and transport helicopters as well as 350 additional soldiers to Mali (the Bundestag or parliament approved this on 26 January). The helicopters will replace those of the Dutch army, and the additional troops will service and maintain the fleet, Reuters reported. The Royal Netherlands Air Force had deployed Apache attack helicopters and Chinooks to Mali.
After the deployment, Germany will have some 1,000 soldiers in Mali taking part in the 15,000-strong U.N. mission that oversees a peace deal agreed in 2015 between the government and rebels.
The helicopters will stay in Mali until mid-2018.
Some 100 peacekeepers have died in Mali, where France launched a military operation in 2013 to push back Islamists who a year earlier had hijacked an ethnic Tuareg uprising in the north of the country.