The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston visited the RAF Chinook detachment,1310 Flt currently serving in Mali under Op NEWCOMBE in support of French counter-insurgency operations in West Africa.
The visit was part of a wider tour of the Sahel at the invitation of Chief of the French Armée de l’ Air, General Philippe Lavigne, during which the two Chiefs visited the French deployments in Tchad Niger and Mali. In Tchad, General Lavigne demonstrated to ACM Wigston the cockpit layout of the deployed French Mirage 2000 and the Chiefs toured the Chinook detachment at Gao.
The RAF Chinooks are based at Camp Roberts, part of the larger French base at Gao, Mali. They fly in support of the forward-deployed French military conducting sorties to re-supply the French Forward Operating Bases. The Chinooks also provide heavy lift capability to the French detachment and other supporting sorties.
“We are making a Chinook-sized difference on the frontline of insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa, providing tremendous support to French Armée de l' Air colleagues and French forces on Op Barkhane.”
Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston
Chief of the Air Staff
He added that his visit with his French counterpart meant he had seen “people making a difference tackling the root causes of insecurity in the Sahel.”
Wing Commander Andy Beasant, the UK National Component Commander in Mali said: “The detachment was honoured to host the Chief and his French counterpart for their visit. Their thanks for the hard work and dedication of the UK and French deployed personnel was particularly poignant at this time of year.”