The UK Government has extended the Royal Air Force (RAF) deployment to support the French counter-terrorism operation in Mali.

The mission, which is currently ongoing in the Sahel region of West Africa, is supported by the RAF with three Chinook CH-47 helicopters and 100 personnel.

The troops and the aircraft are working with the French Armed Forces (FAF) based in Gao, Mali.

Since 2018, RAF Odiham personnel are conducting non-combat roles.

Chinooks are used for logistic operations such as transporting French troops to bases in Mali and delivering support equipment to required locations.

To date, the RAF has completed more than 2,000 flying hours, moving 13,000 passengers and 1,100t of equipment in adverse weather conditions.

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Presently, the Chinooks are flown by aircrew from 18(B) Squadron supported by select RAF and British Army personnel.

French forces with international partners operate in the region to counter threats from terrorist groups, including Al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

Launched by France, the coalition aims to coordinate international activity in Sahel and support its long-term stability.

UK Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said: “West Africa is as important to the UK as it has ever been and we have many friends and allies in the region who share our desire to promote peace and prosperity.

“Combating extremism in the Sahel is vital for the security of the wider region and the UK will play its part tackling the declining security situation.”