Royal Air Force Chinook helicopters have been supporting the French forces in Mali on operations countering the ongoing insurgency, say the RAF.

The Chinooks have been transporting French personal to the forward operation bases as the French military conduct a changeover of troops.

In addition, the heavy lift helicopters have been transporting supplies and equipment.


Squadron Leader Matthew Wight-Boycott said in a release:

“Supporting French operations against violent extremists is an important and satisfying mission.  Our aircrew, engineers and support staff are making a big impact: whether moving large numbers of troops and equipment to remote bases, or re-supplying a patrol in the desert, we are playing a vital part in this operation.

We help reduce the reliance on road moves, typically vulnerable to Improvised Explosive Devices and some ground patrols can only be effectively sustained by helicopter.

One of the other pilots is Flight Lieutenant Matthew Williams.  He said: “This is my first frontline deployment and it has not disappointed.  The job calls for flying heavy payloads over long distances, in intense heat and above some pretty inhospitable terrain; in many respects the environment is a greater threat than the enemy.

Working with the French is an absolute privilege and builds on a shared history; 18 (B) Sqn saw action in France during both World Wars whilst Odiham served as a base for Free French flying training from 1940.  Here in Gao we are continuing that tradition and are absolutely integrated within the French GDT-A (Groupement Tactique Desert-Aerocombat) – whether eating, briefing, flying or even on parade – we are here shoulder to shoulder with the French.”

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Mr Bell

Interesting article. I wonder if our EU friends and allies appreciate the fact that even France, often touted as the EUs premiere military, still requires help from those pesky annoying Brits? UK helping out an EU country is commonplace occurrence, not sure when it was last reciprocated? On a military note though the RAFs lift capability is now probably 2nd to just the USA. Great platform the Chinook. Fast, relatively long ranged for a helo and able to lugg a heavy underslung load or carry large number of troops. Looking at the French order of battle and they have nothing… Read more »


My thoughts exactly Mr Bell….

I always wondered if the British Military capabilities/assistance was just given away during the Brexit negotiations…. we don’t seem to have got much back for giving away a lot during the negotiations….

Daniele Mandelli

Course they so, it’s all hot air and politics.

Europe, as a people, are still our friends and allies.

The EU is a political club. NOT Europe.

The negotiation fiasco lies with the government being defeated before it begins.

Don’t forget I believe the French did help with MPA when we have had none.

If Britain was in a situation when we actually asked for military assistance would France assist? When was the last time we asked?

I would say yes. For Macron to flatly refuse would be pretty damning!

Cam Hunter

The British and french will work more closely than ever in future, even making up joint battle groups and joint expeditionary force deployments. The Lancaster House Treaties of 2010 are two treaties between the United Kingdom and France for defence and security cooperation. They were signed at 10 Downing Street on 2 November 2010 by British prime minister David Cameron. So we will see more frogs work with our millitary. It’s a shame the UK and France don’t work together better with designing jets, helicopters, Naval Ships and even nuclear weapons and the like, and I’m not even sure if… Read more »

Cam Hunter

Also I hope the UK and France do work together on the Nuclear armed submarine deployments, as Europe only has two at any one time patrolling the oceans it would be handy if they were both in different places or even oceans to give best chances of survival and strike back if Armageddon happens, surely they must cooperate on that….


Unfortunately our friends in the EU have been busy excluding the UK from various initiatives rather than looking to keep us involved.

Paul T
Jim Ramsey

Well said Danielle about the MPAs. We Brits have narrow memories when it comes to Europe.


Falklands……….had to be threatened with Escalation and then helped reluctantly,
GW1 ……..kicked out of HQ team
Afghan ………..not much.
Maritime patrol…….. their own deterrent floats in the same area.
Korea………….1 Btn reserves (less than NZ)
WW2………… not comment, 74 landed on D Day.
WW1………….A degree of self interest
Preceding 800 years opposition


“WW2………… not comment, 74 landed on D Day” In fact maybe it’s best to comment as oppose to rewriting history. France lost over 60,000 men in the battle of France, they went down fighting well after Dunkirk (which would not of been possible if it wasn’t for French blood) Then even with the risk of vicious reprisals, under NAZI occupation they formed one of the largest, bravest resistances in the war, over a quarter of a million civilians were honoured after the war for playing a part in the resistance. Plan vert, tortue, violet, bleu, rouge were just some of… Read more »


As others have pointed out. There were plenty of French soldiers fighting during the landings and beyond and countless brave people lost on the French side during the war in general. If it was not for the French Resistance it would have been far more difficult for all of us. Yes some French people decided to side with the Nazis but don’t label them all with this as there were plenty that fought bravely.


The French have had an on-going presence in the Pacific. Their navy visit and support British governed islands in the Pacific in addition to their own. It is only in the past couple of years has there been a Royal Navy footprint in the Pacific.

It is a reciprocity of aid between the two countries, helping in where one has a lesser capability. It may not be well publicised, but it’s there.

John Clark

Two posts in and we hit the BREXT jackpot!
Second out. ding, ding!

BREXIT aside, France and the UK are the only European military powers of note with complimentary capabilities in many areas.

If we can assist the French smashing the Islamist extremists, then why not.


What the report doesn’t say, is that this is a multi-national effort, although French led. The Canadians along with us are providing Chinook support. We are also providing heavy lift air transport to France with A400M and C17, which again is not mentioned. There is even a contingent of Chinese troops in Mali, who although have not been conducting specific counter-terrorism patrols are using it as a training environment. I’m pretty sure it won’t be long until Reaper is pulled away from Syria/Iraq to Mali as its an ideal environment for a close air support aircraft with no direct ground… Read more »

Cam Hunter

The guys called Mike, he started crying and was in a bad way after flying in that great chinook “Bravo November” over Afghanistan, I don’t think he’s cut out for combat ops. That chinook on the other hand is, I hope they keep Bravo November in a museum once it retires, doesn’t it have a great and lucky history, and it served in the falklands war also didn’t it?. I wonder if it’s still operational, it would be funny if it was one of the Chinooks helping the Frogs.

Daniele Mandelli

Sole survivor from Atlantic Conveyor.

BN is legendary and MUST be preserved.

Steve Davis

Last I heard BN was still operational and back in her old stomping ground in the Falklands. Believe she will go to the RAF Museum at Hendon when she finally retires – they already have an exhibit dedicated to her.


I thought it had been confirmed a couple of years ago that za718 (BN) was going to IWM duxford on retirement, might be wrong but I bloody hope it does as they MIGHT be able to keep her airworthy.

Steve Taylor

This grown up, real world stuff and not the faux posturing and prancing that goes on in the EU.

Jim Ramsey

How about the French Breguet Atlantic support during our lack of Maritime Patrol Platforms?

Jim Ramsey

But just look at the sharp end!


People regularly criticise our defence spending, and size of our forces… But France would be in a mess if we did not help them in Mali. I believe we also help with heavy transport aircraft. I don’t think the French have any Chinooks do they? We have 60.


Uh the French have supplied MPA support on a number of occasions as we don’t have any.

Nigel Collins

Interesting to see the next generation of heavy lift helicopters which will eventually replace the Chinook.

“AVX would replace heavy-lift Chinook with tiltrotor”


Also interesting how some of the concept designs in that linked article look somewhat like the Fairey Rotodyne from the 1950s. Imagine if that hadn’t been cancelled.


For me aerodynamically the Rotodyne is still the best compromise for a heavy lift VTOL aircraft. This is because the coaxial design will face severe limitations if it tries to push past 250 knots without taking the load of the rotors. For example the S97 Raider and the Defiant combine the coaxial rotors with a pusher propeller. However, the Wiki design description is incorrect. Close coupled rotors do not decrease drag, but increases drag due to the airflow interaction between the upper and lower blades, much like a biplane generating very strong vortexes around the tips. The S97 was described… Read more »



Kept waiting for you to mention what was so revolutionary about the Rotodyne, but you never did. That was how the main rotors were driven. They weren’t mechanically linked to the Napier Eland engines but were driven by jets on the rotor tips…

I remember building the Airfix kit back in the 1960’s. Great model for it’s time.


In a way it was revolutionary, because by forcing the rotor to turn from the tip via the jets, meant that there was no torque reaction. The yaw was controlled whilst hovering by differential control of the engines and propellers. Which for the day was quite an achievement when it was purely manually controlled. Especially when you consider how difficult it was to finely control the early gas turbines which were prone to either flooding or flaming out. It is possible today to drive the Rotodynes rotor shaft to turn the rotors and provide the counter-torque by differential pitch of… Read more »

captain P Wash.

Didn’t see BN land on but did see her later. funny how Legends Grow.


The reality is none of the nato nations outside the US can now mount a sustained solo operation. Capabilities have been constantly cut, so whilst assets are there for short term operarions, they aren’t there in the numbers requires to sustain an operation without support from other nations. This includes the UK, which will require support from NATO nations to escort our carriers and US jets to fill them etc etc and that’s on a regular deployment and not even as sustained operation.

John Clark

Spot on Steve, we need to work with our allies, it’s a simple fact today, like it or not…


There was a UK Chinook at Nice airport Monday.


France/EU need to start buying heavy lift airlifters, refuelers and helos in meaningful quantities so the Brits and the Americans don’t always have to provide this for them. The EU keeps saying what a great organization they are well then prove it and start funding your own defense. The state of the EU militaries is a disgrace especially Germany’s.