The RAF Odiham based helicopters have now completed 2000 hrs of flying in support of the French military. RAF Chinooks began operating in Mali with the French Military during July 2018 and since then have moved over 1000 tonnes of freight and over 12000 passengers.
Currently, the CH-47 Chinooks are being flown by aircrew drawn from 18(B) Sqn and are supported by ground-based personnel drawn from across the Army and RAF who carry out three to four-month tours.
We have not lost a sortie due to COVID-19 and the French have maintained a high tempo of operations throughout. Once their troops are in the field, we re-supply them and can lift vehicles in and out as required.
Wing Commander Si Elsey, RAF detachment commander.
The current detachment this year has flown 340 hours, lifted 247 Tonnes of freight and transported 1150 passengers since arriving in January. During this time the detachment has operated in temperatures up to 47 degrees centigrade which have been accompanied by frequent dust storms.
The deployed personnel have endeavoured to maintain communications with their families and generate a level of mutual support for isolated loved ones back home during this period of worldwide turmoil caused by COVID-19. Unfortunately, terrorism does not recognise pandemics, so the deployed personnel have maintained their operational focus while observing COVID-19 measures.
Wing Commander Si Elsey.