A pair of Swedish Air Force TP 84s (C-130 Hercules) have been very busy in November helping projecting the soon to come Swedish detachment to the EU / UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The two aircraft operated out of Bamako for a period of two weeks, commuting with Swedish armed forces personnel and materiel to Timbuktu. Close to Timbuktu Swedish military camp Nobel, as the official names goes, opens in the beginning of 2015 with 125 Swedish troops tasked with gathering intelligence and engage in reconnaissance patrols.
The Swedes will contribute to an almost 10,000 men and women strong UN force that is there to stabilize security in the country. Advancing extremist forces in Mali were pushed back last year by a French invasion backed by the international community. Swedish F7 Wing from Såtenäs Airbase sent 17 people to Mali, together with a platoon of combat troops for security. With the deployment the TP 84s did make it to Mali after all, although not as a steady airlift contribution that was foreseen back in Summer 2013.
The Hercules flights lasted 1.5 hours one-way. All sorties were flown during daylight, because of the higher than normal dangers of flying in the dark in the area of operations. Security at the landing zone, Timbuktu Airport, seems very good. A French Army camp is surrounding it, while UN troops from Burkina Faso occupy a terrain north of the airfield.
On the ground two convoys of 90 trucks transported part of the 400 containers of 20 foot each between Dakar via Bamako and Mopti to Timbuktu. Since Sweden earlier this year decommissioned two of its original eight TP 84s, only four Flygvapnet tactical transport aircraft were available for other tasks while the Mali flights took place. But that won’t stop the future Swedish Hercules flights back and from Africa while the Swedish contribution to MINUSMA is underway for real.
© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, based on source information provided by Försvarsmakten