Tag Archives: Minusma

Sweden ignores French request for military support

The Swedish government is mostly ignoring a request by France for military support. Paris asked for combat assets after the November 2015 terror attacks in the French capital that left 130 people (plus 7 attackers) dead, about 90 people critically wounded and another 270 less-critical injured.

Within European Union agreements France subsequently asked all EU members states for military support, to which all countries agreed, arguing that the attacks executed by a cell of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS / ISIL / Daesh) forces that rule in large parts of Syria and Iraq was a military attack. Paris hoped for Swedish SAAB JAS 39 Gripen jets for tactical reconnaissance for Operation Barkhane (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger) and/or Syria. But on Wednesday 16 December 2015 Stockholm says no to this request.

International grey zone

“The most important reason is that deploying Gripen planes would put them in a grey zone when it comes to international law. That could change once there is a very clear United Nations mandate,” Swedish foreign minister Margo Wallström said during a press briefing on Wednesday.

One of three C-17A Globemasters of the the NATO/EU Heavy Airlift Wing, taking off from Linköping-Malmen in Sweden (Image © Marcel Burger)
One of three C-17A Globemasters of the the NATO/EU Heavy Airlift Wing, taking off from Linköping-Malmen in Sweden (Image © Marcel Burger)

Papa C-17

However, Sweden is willing to give away 50 to 100 hours of its 160 hours on the NATO/EU Boeing C-17A Globemaster III Heavy Airlift Wing based at Papa Airbase in Hungary. Moreover, Stockholm is willing to look at a French request to use Swedish weapon stocks or military materiel. In 2017 Sweden is planning to contribute one of its TP 84 (C-130) Hercules tactical airlifter to the UN force in Mali (MINUSMA). Political and military experts, and part of the opposition in Swedish parliament, sees the Swedish answer to the Paris request as an unclear compromise, and certainly something far off of what the French government was hoping for.

Operation Unified Protector

In April to October 2011 first eight, later five Swedish Air Force Gripen jets flew tactical reconnaissance missions under NATO umbrella in the skies over Libya, operating from Sicily. This operation Unified Protector was backed by the UN. The 2011 deployed marked the first Swedish combat missions since the 1960s, when SAAB J29 Tunnans formed the air element of the UN forces in Congo.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A Swedish Air Force JAS 39C Gripen fighter at Linköping-Malmen (Image © Marcel Burger)

Norway to send Hercules to Mali operations

The Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) will dispatch one of its Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules with 50 personnel in support of the UN backed multinational operations in Mali in Africa. The government in Oslo decided on 24 June 2015 that the tactical airlifter should be operational at Bamako-M’poko Airport in Mali in the beginning of 2016.

The Herc will provide airlift to the international forces in Mali – with a heavy French involvement – limiting the movement and fighting rebel forces in the north and northeast of the country. However, Norway will withdraw the about 20 intelligence officers from Mali in November this year, the Norwegian newspaper VG reports.

In the recent past Bamoko has seen Hercules’s many times. Norway’s neighbour Sweden uses its older TP 84 versions regularly in support of its troops in Mali.

© Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A Royal Norwegian Air Force C-130J (Image © Nils Skipnes / Luftforsvaret / Forsvarets mediesenter)

Fatal Dutch AH-64 Apache crash in Mali

Update 21 March: helicopter involved was serial Q-15, according to the Dutch
Ministry of Defense. | A Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) AH-64D Apache has crashed in Mali on Tuesday 17 March, according to news reports. The two crew members were  killed in the accident, which happened in the northern province of Gao.

The helicopter went down at 2pm local time during a live shooting exercise, some 45 kilometers north of Gao. One of the pilots died on the scene, while the other one died in a French army hospital. Both were members of 301 squadron, home based at Gilze Rijen airbase in the southern part of the Netherlands.

The RNLAF deployed four AH-64D Apache attack helicopters and three Boeing CH-47D Chinook transport helos to the African nation to support UN peace keeping operations. The first helicopters arrived here in May 2014.

The accident marks the second time the Dutch loose an Apache during operations abroad. On 29 August 2004, an Apache crashed while in Afghanistan. The cause was later determined to be crew error. The Netherlands now operates a fleet of 28 remaining Apaches, of which a small number is kept in the US for training purposes.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

Q-15, the Dutch AH-64D Apache involved in the crash in Mali. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Q-15, the Dutch AH-64D Apache involved in the crash in Mali. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

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)

AN-124 will “eat” Chinooks this week

From the backdoor, a gunner of this RNLAF CH-47F is checking the area!. Archive photo. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
From the backdoor, a gunner of this RNLAF CH-47F is checking the area!. Archive photo. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
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

A Volga-Dnepr An-124-100 coming in to land (Image © Antonov)
A Volga-Dnepr An-124-100 coming in to land (Image © Antonov)
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

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A Volga-Dnepr An-124-100 coming in to land (Image © Antonov)
A Volga-Dnepr An-124-100 coming in to land (Image © Antonov)