The UK Royal Air Force’s (RAF) CH-47 Chinook helicopters have achieved a new milestone by logging 2,000 flying hours supporting French forces.
The helicopters from RAF Odiham have been supporting the ongoing French military-led insurgency countering operations in Mali.
In July 2018, the helicopters commenced operations in the West African country with the French military.
To date, the Chinooks have successfully transported more than 1,000t of freight and over 12,000 passengers.
Currently, the CH-47 Chinooks are piloted by aircrew from 18(B) Squadron. Ground-based personnel from across the army and RAF also offered support.
RAF detachment commander wing commander Si Elsey said: “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
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“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.”
About 340 flying hours and transport of 247t of freight have been recorded since January this year.
The current detachment has operated in up to 47°C temperatures and frequent dust storms.