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Belgian NH90 helicopter performed first operational mission in Mali


By Nathan Gain

A Belgian Air Component NH90 helicopter performed a first operational mission last week in Gao (Mali) as part of Belgium's participation in the MINUSMA mission, military sources confirmed to the Belgian news agency Belga.


Belgian NH90 helicopter performed first operational mission in Mali 001 A BAC NH90 TTH Caïman deployed in Gao, Mali
(Credit: Belgian Defence/Daniel Orban)


The NH90 TTH (Tactical Transport Helicopter) provided close protection for another NH90 chopper sent by the German Air Force for a MEDEVAC mission. They flew 160 km away from Gao to evacuate a wounded German soldier, a military official said.

This was the first operational intervention for the 53 Belgian soldiers deployed since February in Mali with two NH90 TTHs.

The BAC 18th Squadron's NH90s, based out of Beauvechain AB (South-East of Brussels), are supporting the German helicopters since March 1st. They are essentially performing transport, MEDEVAC and reconnaissance missions and are being deployed for a maximum duration of seven months.

Two NH90s operated by the 18th Squadron were previously involved in Tropical Storm exercise organized in September 2017 in Gabon in preparation to the UN mission in Mali. 

The Belgian Air Component received four NH90 TTH platforms, all operated by the BAF's 18 Squadron out of Beauvechain Air Base. Belgium's first NH90 TTH entered service in October 2013, and the last was delivered on 13 November 2014.