Personnel based at RAF Odiham have returned from a demanding and intense 4-month operational tour in the West African state of Mali supporting the French-led Op Barkhane counter insurgency operations in the region, say the Royal Air Force.

According to a news release, the personnel from 18 (Bomber) Squadron RAF, together with supporting elements from the Tactical Support Wing and Joint Helicopter Support Squadron, formed 1310 Flight RAF to operate the RAF CH-47 Chinook helicopters that are currently based at Gao Mali.

Wing Commander Si Elsey, the UK National Component Commander, has also handed over command of the RAF detachment and reflecting on the tour was quoted as saying:

“The ongoing Chinook operations in Mali are extremely challenging due to the environment in which we are operating. This tour has however been extremely successful due to the professionalism of all the service personnel deployed here.  They have managed to maintain a high operational tempo throughout, which has been acknowledged by our French Allies.”

The RAF say that during the tour, the Chinooks of 1310 Flt have carried out several significant operations.  One of them saw the Chinooks conducting a series of company sized air lifts of units of the French Army’s Groupement Tactique Desert 1 across central Mali.  During one phase of the operation a Chinook flew through the night alongside French Caiman helicopters to insert over 130 troops to conduct a clearance patrol in force. After 36 hours on the ground the French troops were recovered back to Gao the Chinooks main operating base.

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Somewhat surprising how little mainstream media coverage there has been of this, given both the scale of the operation, and our involvement.


I gave up watching/following the “main stream” media years ago. Don’t regret it at all. It’s all geared towards the least intelligent of society and pushes a liberal agenda most of the time. Most of what they report isn’t even based on facts.



Stevo H

Dan, you are absolutely spot on. If the subject matter isn’t anti Trump or anti Tory, they have no interest in it at all…….not even one tiny bit.


I did too, its not even watchable. They stoke the fires of division and hate, then step back to condemn their handy work. There is still no excuse for the police officer sitting on George’s neck for 8 minutes, there are much better ways he could have been retrained, but there is a very strong chance he will be acquitted if it was the drugs and underlying health reasons that caused his death and the riots will start back up again. The media only shared a fraction of the narrative to kick of the racial tensions and damage Trump and… Read more »


I don’t know how you guys can surmise that Floyd is high on drugs from the body am videos. What is clear is that he is frightened as he comes out of the car with 9mm pistols pointed in his face. Here in America this often ends in death for the person of color. Please gentleman keep your political affiliations and biases and racial prejudices out of this forum. Thank you.

John Bradshaw

Liberal agenda? The Sun? Daily Mail? Express? Telegraph? If you really think they push a liberal agenda you must rub shoulders with Ghengis Khan.


To be fair, the scale isn’t that large. Is it three chinooks. Still we should have good story’s about what our great nation does abroad more often instead of always doom and gloom on the News.

Stevo H

Indeed it would but……it would make us look good and the MSM don’t like that, they want us to look bad for some reason.

Mr Bell

Spot on.agree Cam. Kind of my point above.

Stevo H

Gareth, because the subject doesn’t promote the MSM’s far left political stance or it doesn’t bash either Donald Trump or Boris Johnson, they aren’t interested. The fact that the British government sent military help to one of our key Allies probably irks them massively, they’ll have to find some other crap to write about and there’s no end to how low they’ll go.


You’re delusional

John Bradshaw

Some of these comments crack me up. MSM ‘far left political stance’? What are you smoking? To generalise about MSM and suggest that The Sun, Daily Mail, Express and Telegraph, between them by far the majority of UK newspaper coverage, have a ‘far left political stance’ is hysterically funny! Tell those newspapers they’re ‘far left’ and let me see their response. I’ve just done a quick Google search to see which MSM have covered UK operations in Mali. (Incidentally, I’ve spent time in Gao, and loved the place and the country.) Yes, coverage is occasional, but it’s there. I’ve read… Read more »

Barry Larking

Community cohesion issues.

Peter Crisp

This must be building some pretty substantial goodwill with the French forces involved. I can imagine some pretty close friendships have been formed.
Good work to everyone involved.

john melling

Are these the ones that were allocated to help the French
Considering we are sending 250 soldiers, would it not have been best to keep them in Mali
or are we rotating squadrons?


Yes, the aircraft and personnel are rotated regularly.


From what i read these are allocated to the French mission and therefore will not be supporting the British mission.

The British mission will be relying on helicopters from other nations.


No, the UK helicopters and boots on the ground will all be part of Op Barkhane. As such they will be used where the tasking is required. So it could be transporting some Estonians to X, whilst the French with their Super Pumas transport our troops to Y. The next day it could be our Chinooks transporting our guys to somewhere else. It all depends on what is planned during the week and what is available.


I had understood our operation was seperare to the French one, and was under UN, but might have misunderstood.


Unlikely there French.

These are the guys who wanted to charge us a fortune to ship Chinook spares to Mali a few years back. Ingrates is more like it.

Mr Bell

The Chinook is a great aircraft and doing sterling work for our “friends and allies” the French. Do we get any financial reimbursement though for the cost of crew, fuel, spares and wear and tear on the air frames?
I know the answer is going to be no. Blah blah blah mutual aid, blah blah blah the French support us. Just seems a bit one sided at the moment. We give to EU Nato and allied countries, they take and we get precisely zip back as a thank you.


For years France helped the UK with maritime surveillance with the Atlantic2. This will probably continue while the UK awaits for delivery of all the aircrafts on order.
France doing the heavy lifting in Sahel also helps all of Europe, UK included. This prevents creating even more illegal migrants, stopping another Isis State from getting a foothold from which they could pursue attacks in the West as well as spreading further across Africa like in Nigeria etc… Let’s not be naive and think that we don’t need their natural ressources. Much easier when there is a semblance of control.