Tag Archives: Bamako

Moving to Mali: Swedish Hercs essential

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.

Timbuktu Airport
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.

Next year
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

Related: Press Play: RNLAF Apaches deploy to Gao in Mali
And: France sends Tigre attack helos to Central Africa

The pair of Swedish Air Force Hercules aircraft on the airport of Bamako, Mali, in November 2014 (Image © Försvarsmakten)
The pair of Swedish Air Force Hercules aircraft on Bamako-M’poko Airport, Mali, in November 2014 (Image © Försvarsmakten)

Dutch Apaches on their way to Mali

A pair of Royal Netherlands Air Force AH-64D Apaches taking off (Image © Minsterie van Defensie)
A pair of Royal Netherlands Air Force AH-64D Apaches taking off (Image © Minsterie van Defensie)

LATEST UPDATE 28 MARCH 2014 | 3 RNLAF CH-47 Chinooks will join Dutch force in Mali

The first Dutch troops for the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) have left Amsterdam Schiphol Airport on 6 January 2014, to make way for the main Dutch force that will include 4 AH-64D Apache helicopters.

The group of 14 engineers will build up the Dutch encampment, including living and sleeping areas, figure out the logistics and prepare the infrastructure for the arrival of the main force that will include the four Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) Apache attack helicopters plus small recon drones. In total about 378 personnel will be sent to Mali in the coming weeks, made up by 90 special forces, 70 analysts, 60 crew to support the Apache ops, 20 military police and 10 civilian police officers. Another 128 Dutch military men and women will support the operation which will likely mean frequent flights of RNLAF C-130Hs, (K)DC-10s, NATO/allied C-17s and possibly even rented AN-124s.

Transport fleet
Eindhoven AB will be the main air operations centre in the Netherlands. It is the home of the RNLAF transport fleet, comprising of 334 Squadron and 336 Squadron, and is a relatively short driving distance from the Apaches homebase of Gilze-Rijen and the Royal Netherlands Army Commandos base in Roosendaal.

334 Squadron’s main task is to operate two McDonnell Douglas KDC-10 tanker/transport with registration T-264 (Prins Bernhard) and T-235 (Jan Scheffer). 336 Squadron is the Hercules unit, flying two C-130H-30 with registration G-273 (Ben Swagerman) and G-275 (Joop Mulder) plus two into C-130H converted ex-USN EC-130Qs with registration G-781 (Bob van der Stok) and G-988 (Willem den Toom).

Pick-up
Although no official word yet from the Dutch ministry of Defence, it is likely that joint-EU/allied Boeing C-17A Globemaster IIIs or Antonov AN-124 Ruslans (NATO name Condor) will pick up the Apaches at the Royal Netherlands Defence Helicopter Command base of Gilze Rijen. 301 Squadron based here flies 21 AH-64Ds, while another 8 RNLAF Apaches are permanently assigned to the recently re-establised 302 Squadron based at Fort Hood/Robert Gray Army Air Field in Texas, USA, for training purposes.

Base of operations
The Dutch contribution to MINUSMA lasts until mid 2015, but the government in The Hague holds options open for a longer stay if the UN Security Council asks for it. The AH-64Ds and ScanEagle drones will mainly operate out of Gao, with Bamako-Senou as the main logistics and military analysis base. Bamako was left recently by a French fighter detachment. The 90 special forces will be scattered over a large area as the eyes and ears of the UN troops and might need some Apache air support from time to time.

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger with source information of the Ministerie van Defensie (Dutch MoD)

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First ‘war mission’ for A400M Atlas, in Op Serval

The first A400M in service worldwide. This is the F-RBAA, its sister F-RBAB flew the first 'war mission' (Image © EADS)
The first A400M in service worldwide. This is the F-RBAA, its sister F-RBAB flew the first ‘war mission’ (Image © EADS)

The new Airbus A400M flew its first operational mission on Sunday 29 December 2013, when the Armée de l’Air (French Air Force) F-RBAB flew to Bamako-Senou airport in Mali.

After taking off from its home BA123 Orleans-Bricy at 10:30, the A400M made ​​a flight of 6 hour and 40 minutes (click for flightdeck image), carrying 22 tons of materiel for the French operation Serval (Mali and Chad). “We have carefully planned the flight, in order to overcome all eventualities”, said Lt. Col. Creuset, head of the mission to an AdlA reporter. “In particular, we have trained on the Full Flight Simulator, commissioned a few weeks ago at the A400M Training Centre at Orleans-Bricy.”

Since 2 August 2013, the delivery date of the first Atlas to the l’Armée de l’Air, the crew of the Multinational Entry into Service Team (MEST) at Orleans-Bricy airbase have made test and training flights. Currently, two A400M Atlas’s are attached to the MEST. They officially have initial operational capability (IOC) only, a military term for the active ‘try-out’ till full operational capability (FOC) is declared. For the AdlA’s first pair of Atlas’s FOC is expected in late 2014.

The A400M Atlas is meant to replace the current larger tactical freighters of the Armée de l’Air, comprising of the C.160 Transall and the C-130 Hercules. The large cargo haul of the A400M can accommodate the max load of 22 tons as seen here on the first operational mission, against only 6 tonnes for a Transall. Other cargo loads for the Atlas could be 2 Tigre attack helicopters, or 3 armoured vehicles (VAB), or 116 paratroopers, or 66 beds for a medevac mission.

The Ecole de l'aviation légère de l'armée de terre is where future pilots learn to fly the EC665 Tigre attack helicopter, among others. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Although not the cargo of the first operational mission, the A400M can transport two of these Eurocopter Tigre helicopters – into battle if necessary (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Source: Armée de l’Air with additional reporting by AIRheads’ Dennis Spronk

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Sweden prepares C-130 for Mali

Swedish Air Force TP 84 with serial 847 at F3 Malmslätt airbase in Linköping. The aircraft normally operates out of F7 Såtenäs. (Image © Marcel Burger)
Swedish Air Force TP 84 with serial 847 at F3 Malmslätt airbase in Linköping. The aircraft normally operates out of F7 Såtenäs. (Image © Marcel Burger)

UPDATE SEPT 14: Sweden cancels Mali C-130

The Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet) is preparing one of its eight TP 84 (C-130H) Hercules aircraft for deployment in Mali next month.

The Swedish C-130s are amongst the oldest of the type still in service in Europe, with 32 to 48 years of age. They operate out of F7 Såtenäs base at giant lake Vänern in the southern part of the country. Despite frequent talks about a replacement of the TP 84s, no decision has been made nor does one seem imminent.

The Swedish Armed Forces are, however, one of the largest users of the NATO/EU C-17 strategic transport fleet centrally based at Papa in Hungary to compensate for their lack of long-range air transport capacity.

It’s the decision of the Swedish parliament to send the Flygvapnet C-130 together with 70 personnel to the UN force Minusma, the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali. The Swedish task force is designated FM 01 and will use September to build up its operations just outside the Mali capital of Bamako. Officially the unit will be operational on October 1, serving till Januari 31, 2014.

The Swedish Armed Forces FM 01 will mainly be tasked with transport of materiel and personnel from southern to northern Mali in what officially is called ,,establishment of increased security in the turbulent northern areas”.

A French intervention force pushed back extremist rebels when they started Operation Serval at January 11, 2013. The later joint French-African operations, supported by several EU countries, has now been turned into a United Nations mission.

© 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger

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French Mirage 2000 rotation Mali

The three rotated Frech Mirage 2000Ds at Bamako, Mali (Image © EMA / Ministère de la Défense)
The three rotated Frech Mirage 2000Ds at Bamako, Mali (Image © EMA / Ministère de la Défense)

The French Air Force rotated their Mirage 2000D deployment in support of Opération Serval, the French anti-rebel military deployment in Mali.

Three Mirage 2000D of the fighter detachment (DETCHASSE) at Bamako, Mali flew home to the 133 Air Base Nancy-Ochey. Three Mirage 2000Ds from Nancy landed on June 22nd at Bamako, supported by a C-135 tanker from 125 Airbase Istres.

Since the beginning of the Operation Serval the Mirage 2000D DETCHASSE at Bamako conducted 435 missions, totaling nearly 2,200 flight hours.

About 3,200 French troops are currently on Malian soil with a mission to permanently weaken islamists rebels.

Sources: EMA / Ministère de la Défense de la France

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