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.

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David Steeper

Wonder if we’ll get a thank you ?


I am sure the French are grateful and have expressed it. However, I do wonder if the support would be returned.

I am not sure what logistics the French have, that we do not (big difference between providing logistics and providing war fighting assets), but would be interesting should the need arrive.

Saying that it is not clear if the Chinooks will only be used in low risk environments or also support the front line.

David Steeper

You’re an optimist Steve.


Perhaps a gracious invitation to join the Franco German 6th generarion fighter project, as a junior partner of course 🙂


That would be an insult not an expression of gratitude !!!


We’ll get a loan of their maritime recon assets.

Andy G



Why would we need that?


Because (scandalously) we haven’t any of our own.


So we continue to help them as they continue to shaft us, why ? SMH.


Because we are decent and trustworthy people. Two wrongs do not make a right.


Never heard of ‘perfidious Albion’ ? Mind you, that was probably coined when England was ruled by the French !


England never was ruled by the French mind you!


Both England and France were ruled by the same group of nobles during the early Middle Ages. It’s not really true ti say either England or France ruled the other, we both just happened to be ruled by the same set of dynastic families who loved to use the prols to fight wars of position and power. Oh and they spoke French as a first language. They also did the same to Ireland and kicked of that whole sorry affair. It’s the base of why English, Irish and French realationships were so very interesting from the mid to late Middle… Read more »


In what way are they ‘shafting us’ ? The article mentions that they are being supported in their ops to prevent the country becoming a haven for terrorists planning to attack Europe. Perhaps we should be thanking them for doing the the dirty work there.


Actually this has nothing to do with the French but rather Canada. In June Canada replaced Germany as the major support element in Mali . They could only supply six Helicopters (2 CH47s and 4 Bell CH-146 Griffons) and they would arrive in August. Minusma (the UN mission) said err we want them in June. Hence the RAF jumping in.


Read towards the bottom of that article and it states the 3 British helicopters were being sent to support the French mission and had nothing to do with Minusma. In states that Britain is asking member states to support Canada, but doesn’t appear to be doing so itself.


Whilst correct, the support from the UK wasn’t meant to arrive in theatre until the autumn of this year. The deployment of the CH47s has been brought forward by a number of months to cover the gap between the Germans departing and the Canadians arriving .

As for supporting the French, the Uk is and has been providing the trooper flights for the French military to Mali. The Helicopter support was meant to go out with the deployment of around 100 troops (non-Ccombat) they will still deploy later this year.


Making up the French’s gaps in heavy lift capability…again.


Like they (and others) make up for the scandalous lack of maritime patrol aircraft in the RAF.


Ah good point, was trying to think of a low risk capability that we would need their help with and clearly aviation sub hunting is it.

David Taylor

The security of CASD should be our primary concern.


Clearly it isn’t Steve.

Mr Bell

Steve our la k of MPA I would not describe as a low risk capability. It is nothing short of a national scandal. Heads should have rolled, urgent questions and debates should have been happening in parliament. Instead near silence and a promise to resolve the issue by purchasing Poseidon over a protracted period of time with inadequate numbers to provide the required patrol and sub hunting cover required.


They do no such thing you idiot. The RAF already has such patrol aircraft. RAF seed-corn crews in P-8 Poseidon aircraft is what you’re thinking of, not other nations’ militaries.


Joe calling people idiots is not nice, even worse I’m afraid your also incorrect, we do not have any any maritime patrol aircraft, we are making do with rotor assets and borrowing from NATO allies such as France if needed. The first P-8 will be derived in 2019 as far as I’m aware, not sure when in service date will be.


No fixed wing assets since 2012.

New figures show 17 maritime patrol aircraft belonging to Nato allies were deployed to RAF Lossiemouth last year – eight from the US and others from Germany, France, Norway and Canada.

Mr Bell

Joe sorry mate, you are wrong and not informed. The UK abolished all its maritime patrol aircraft years ago when the Nimrod programme went massively over budget and delayed. Cameron’s government scrapped them to save a few pennies just as the Nimrod 4 was beginning to enter service.


From the people at the Avro Museum

“The first 5 Mk.4s had all flown and were virtually complete, but none had been delivered. Set 6 had been engine running, soon to fly, and Set 7 had had systems and pressure tests, all before the axe fell. It is possible that 2 had been ‘delivered on paper’, but we have no knowledge of it”

[…] UK has operated alongside France in Iraq, but also in Mali and Estonia. In the Indian Ocean, Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel completed a five month […]

Mr Bell

Scandalous lack of any UK maritime patrol aircraft.
Complete nonsense.
SDSR 2010 and 2015 were disasters.
Still due to a lack of funds it is not until 2030 when all the planned 9 UK maritime patrol aircraft are in service.
Still just so long as we keep sending £14 billion a year abroad on foreign aid, with little to no oversight or benefit to the UK. Then everything will be fine.

Declan Brady

Don’t forget about the proposed use of Mistral Class helicopter and landing ships, as once again our excellent Royal.Marineshave been shafted by the sell off and further mooted sell off of our troop assault ships….. who has offered to help…. Our friends from across the channel. It’s swings and roundabouts. In these austere times, when every penny counts, we have to share assets and capabilities as many nations cannot to purchase and operate many types of essential equipment. Read the article on the U.S Airforce standing up a squadron at Lossie, as we cannot afford more than the 8 or… Read more »

[…] in January when Prime Minister Theresa May met French President Emmanuel Macron. The helicopters arrived in July, supported by over 90 British […]


Is there any truth in any report in that paper ?