The Royal Air Force (RAF) Chinook detachment supporting French troops in Mali has so far logged over 2 000 flight hours, including nearly 340 hours so far this year.
The Royal Air Force on 6 May said the RAF Odiham-based helicopters have now completed 2 000 hours of flying in support of the French military since they began operating in Mali with the French military during July 2018. Since then they have moved over 1 000 tonnes of freight and over 12 000 passengers.
Between January and May 2020, the Chinooks have lifted 247 tonnes of freight and transported 1 150 passengers. During this time the detachment has operated in temperatures up to 47 degrees centigrade which have been accompanied by frequent dust storms.
Currently, the CH-47 Chinooks are being flown by aircrew drawn from 18(B) Squadron and are supported by ground-based personnel drawn from across the Army and RAF who carry out three to four-month tours.
“We have not lost a sortie due to COVID-19 and the French have maintained a high tempo of operations throughout. Once their troops are in the field, we re-supply them and can lift vehicles in and out as required,” said RAF detachment commander Wing Commander Si Elsey.
“The deployed personnel have endeavoured to maintain communications with their families and generate a level of mutual support for isolated loved ones back home during this period of worldwide turmoil caused by COVID-19. Unfortunately, terrorism does not recognise pandemics, so the deployed personnel have maintained their operational focus while observing COVID-19 measures,” said Elsey.