A French Army Gazelle (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Operation Sangaris: French deployed to Central Africa, with British support

French Air Force Airbus A340 unloading troops in Bangui (Image © EMA)
French Air Force Airbus A340 unloading troops in Bangui (Image © EMA)

The French armed forces have intervened in the Central African Republic under the name operation Sangaris. The last couple of days the total force of 1,200 troops have been put into action after wide-spread agression between anti-christian rebels, rebels and government forces left between 280 and 350 people dead in and around the city of Bangui.

At 7 December 2013 the troops have had a compact air mobile support unit at their disposal, consisting of 2 Gazelle and 4 Puma helicopters. They are mainly there to relocate and transport troops from the 6e Bataillon d’infanterie de Marine (6th Marine Infantry Battalion; 6eBima) spearheading the intervention force. Additional troops were partly flown in by a French Air Force Airbus A340.

The French were able to act quickly using their garrison in Gabon, while Mistral-class amphibious assault ship Dixmude had unloaded support and reconnaissance ground units in neighbouring Cameroon on 1 December 2013. Those units crossed the border with the Central African Republic over land in the night of 6 and 7 December 2013.

A British Royal Air Force C-17 with serial ZZ178 contributed with flying in supplies and material to Bangui-M’Poko Airport on 6 December 2013. Air support was and is provided by continuing patrols of Armée de l’Air Rafale fighter aircraft.

M’Poko airport is also the operating base for the white painted United Nations Humanitarian Air Service in the country, currently likely consisting of at least three or four Let 410s and possibly a Beechcraft 1900.

Source: Ministère de la Défense with additional reporting by AIRheads’ Marcel Burger

A French Army Gazelle (Image © Dennis Spronk)
A French Army Gazelle of the type deployed in Central Africa as part of Operations Sangaris (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Royal Air Force C-17 ZZ178 after landing at M'Poko airport in the Central African Republic on 6 December 2013 with material and supplies for the French intervention force in the country (Image © EMA)
Royal Air Force C-17 ZZ178 after landing at M’Poko airport in the Central African Republic on 6 December 2013 with material and supplies for the French intervention force in the country (Image © EMA)