Royal Air Force Chinooks currently deployed in Mali in support of French Military Operations there have passed a significant milestone after recording 3000 hours of operational flight time, say the Royal Air Force.
The milestone was passed by 1310 Flight, the RAF detachment that operates the CH-47 Chinooks in Mali and is primarily committed to conducting flight operations in support of the French Operation Barkhane, a counter-terrorist operation across the Sahel region of West Africa.
The RAF Odiham based helicopters from Joint Helicopter Command, first arrived in West Africa during July 2018 to provide a heavy lift helicopter support capability to Op Barkhane.
Since the start of the deployment, the British Chinook detachment has have moved over 1,500 tonnes of freight and over 18,000 French soldiers.
The aircraft are currently flown by pilots and crewmen from 27 Sqn, supported by personnel from across the RAF, British Army and Royal Navy drawn from Joint Helicopter Command.
The RAF Detachment Commander, Squadron Leader Sam Bennett, said in a news release:
“The crews and individuals who are deployed on Op Newcombe have maintained a high tempo of operations throughout our time in theatre, delivering support to the French in their efforts to counter the militant Islamist threat. This deployment has been particularly challenging due to COVID-19, however, our mitigations have kept the detachment 100% free of the virus, resulting in no lost sorties. In addition, the harsh conditions in which we operate have added a number of substantial technical issues, that test the engineers on a daily basis. Despite this, the team has managed to provide over 100 flying hours per month and so achieve our mission to support our French allies.”