3 Chinook helicopters have arrived in West Africa to support the French counter-terrorism operation in Mali.
They’ll operate alongside 90 British troops already in the region, and will provide logistical and troop movement support.
“The UK and France have a unique security and defence relationship that has lasted for more than a century and this deployment demonstrates our shared commitment to tackling terrorism, instability and reducing threats to European security”
Mark Lancaster, Armed Forces Minister
The UK has consistently supported UN and EU military operations in Mali in recent years. The intention is to prevent extremists of any nature from operating in the anarchic Sahel region, and in particular to prevent them planning attacks on Europe.
The area is also a haven for the illegal trade in people, drugs, weapons and wildlife, and the operation aims to counter this.
The move was first agreed back in January when Prime Minister Theresa May met with French President Emmanuel Macron. Whitehall sources said the UK had offered the Chinook to make up for shortfalls in French helicopter numbers.
Indeed, several RAF C-17 helped transport French armoured vehicles to Mali in 2013 when the French first began their military campaign against Islamist rebels.