The deployment of Royal Air Force Chinooks began in 2018.
The Royal Air Force say that Joint Helicopter Command (JHC) planners have recently led the work to ensure that equipment, including a Chinook could be rotated to allow long term maintenance.
The complicated planning ensured a RAF C-17 Globemaster from RAF Brize Norton based 99 Squadron was able to conduct the changeover of Chinook airframes successfully.
“JHC personnel are also deployed in Mali at Gao Air base, to support 1310 Flight which is currently from C Flight 18 (B) Squadron RAF and their supporting ground crew. One of the JHC units that is supporting the operation is the Tactical Supply Wing (TSW). The four strong TSW detachment is a key enabling element for the deployment as they carry out the fuelling of helicopters and other aircraft as needed. To do this they also have to be able to maintain the equipment and conduct fuels quality assurance testing prior to any refuel to ensure that the fuel is fit for use.
The detachment is equipped with a very large Oshkosh Tactical Aircraft Refueller tanker that can hold 15,000 litres of fuel. All of the detachment are qualified to operate the Oshkosh pumping compartment or to be on the hose end of refuels, connecting the hose to the aircraft and conducting the refuel.The fuel that is used is drawn from the main French fuel depot based at the airfield and then the detachment blend in additives that brings the fuel to UK military grade specifications.”
Lieutenant Colonel Steve Brining, the UK’s National Component Commander and senior officer in Mali said:
“The role of JHC has been critical to the success of the UK’s helicopter operations in the African Sahel region. The enablers that are deployed provide the critical mission support that is needed to conduct these operations successfully together with the support we receive from the Joint Helicopter Command Headquarters back in the UK.”