2 Royal Air Force C-17 transport aircraft have arrived in France as part of the UK's logistical support to French military operations in Mali.
At Évreux-Fauville Air Base near Paris the aircraft will be loaded with armoured vehicles and other military equipment for transport to the Malian capital, Bamako. French forces are assisting the Malian government to contain rebel and extremist groups in the north of the country.
Officer Commanding 99 Squadron, Wing Commander Stu Lindsell, said:
We started doing some contingency planning on Saturday and we had the green light to go yesterday and so the first aircraft left within 24 hours of our initial scoping.
We will be providing the C-17 logistical support as part of the UK commitment to supporting the French operations in Mali. We’ll be operating from France to provide support to the region.
I have been very impressed by how everyone on the squadron and the station has risen to meet the task. We often plan for contingency operations on 99 Squadron; we’re fairly used to that as part of our day-to-day operations, but everyone has been incredibly keen and enthusiastic and we couldn’t have done it any quicker.
This view was echoed by Squadron Leader David Blakemore, Flight Commander Training on 99 Squadron, who said:
There’s a real buzz on the squadron. This is something different, somewhere different and people really want to get involved.
The fact another nation is coming to the UK to ask for its outsize lift capability is testament to the C-17’s reputation forged over the past decade.
The RAF’s fleet of C-17 Globemasters give the ability to move equipment and personnel swiftly around the world for both military and humanitarian operations. The huge payload and long range of the C-17 make the aircraft, operated by 99 Squadron, ideally placed to enable the UK Government to respond to worldwide challenges.