Three New Aircraft Join The Mali Air War
In the last few days, several nations have joined the large coalition supporting France in the Mali Air War with an overall Order of Battle currently including assets from some African air forces as well.
Dealing with the French, the air contingent of Operation Serval is made of:
4x Rafale Air, 5x C-135FR, 1x A310, 1x C130, 3x C-160 Transal, 3x Mirage 2000D, 1x CN235 at N’Djamena, Chad
2x Mirage F1CR, 8x Gazelle, 3x Mirage 2000D, 4x Super Puma, 3x Tigre helos at Bamako, Mali
2x Harfang drones at Niamey, Niger
5x French Navy’s Atlantique II MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft) at Dakar, Senegal, performing ISR (intelligence surveillance reconnaissance)
After chartering a Volga Dnepr An-124 and an Il-76 with Belarus registration, the French have used an An-225 Mriya, world’s biggest airlifter, to carry troops and equipment from Istres to Bamako. The first round trip saw the aircraft returning to Istres (possibly to be loaded again) on Jan. 24.
The U.S. DoD has been supporting the French operation with three (or five according to other sources) C-17 Globemaster II cargo planes (the same kind of plane dispatched by the Royal Canadian Air Force and by the UK’s Royal Air Force). Actually, one of the American airlifters was spotted in.Mauritania on Jan. 16, well before Washington officially stepped in.
Noteworthy, according to a source of the usually very well informed ACIG‘s Editor Tom Cooper, along with the unarmed RQ-1 and RQ-4B Global Hawk, the U.S. Air Force is currently flying weaponized MQ-1 Predator drones over Mali.
The Italian Air Force has committed two C-130J Hercules aircraft, belonging to the 46^ Brigata Aerea from Pisa, and one Boeing KC-767A tanker, from the 14° Stormo at Pratica di Mare, to Mali as well.
Other airlifters are being provided by Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands and the UAE.
About 60 airlift missions have been flown so far to support the build-up phase of the Mali war by France and partner countries.
The Nigerian Air Force has deployed two Alpha Jet light attack planes (NAF 455 and NAF 452) from the domestic wing of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, to Niamey, in Niger, where they will be based during the Mali operations. Nigerian Mi-35 gunships were also deployed in the last few days.
By means of its C-130 aircraft, that have airlifter personnel and equipment, the NAF has supported the Nigerian Army deployment to Mali.
Noteworthy, after conducting an attack on a camp possibly used by smugglers close to the border with Chad and Sudan on Dec. 18, the Free Libyan Air Force reportedly struck an alleged AQIM convoy of four vehicles originated from Mali, that had entered Libya from Niger.
Source: David Cenciotti, The Aviationist News - 28 January 2013
Photo: The Nigerian Air Force Mil Mi-35 Hind-E Gunship (Photo by businessinsider.com)