The first two of three Royal Netherlands Air Force CH-47 Chinook medium-transport helicopters will be transported to the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) the coming week. On 8 September a rented Antonov AN-124 with a hired crew will “eat” the choppers at Gilze Rijen Airbase in the south of the Netherlands, to let them go loose at the international airport of Bamako in Mali. Bamako is a main logistic and support airbase for both international and French operations in the area.
The Chinooks will have to be partly disassembled for the transport, and put together again after arrival. After systems and flight tests the choppers will head for Camp Castor in Gao in the east of Mali, where they join four RNLAF AH-64D Apaches already based there since May this year (WITH VIDEO).
All three RNLAF Chinooks should be operational at 1 October at the latest. They are being sent after a decision in March this year, when the Netherlands Ministry of Defence discovered there might be too little resources from French or other forces in the area to perform medevac or other support duties for the Dutch ground forces deployed to MINUSMA.
Fun for local aviation enthousiasts: because of the arrival and departure of the huge the road directly adjacent to Gilze Rijen Airbase will be closed down on several periods of time on 8, 9, 10 and 11 September. The road is famous for low-flying aircraft landing at Gilze Rijen, like on this image.
Source: Ministerie van Defensie, with additional reporting by Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger