Canada has supplied logistical air-support to the French armed forces in West Africa deployed in the framework of operation Barkhane which was launched on 1 August 2014 to combat Islamic radical forces across the Sahel.
“On November 20, 2016, a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-177 Globemaster strategic airlifter transported personnel and equipment from France to West Africa and the Sahel region,” the Canadian National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces website announced, but gave no details as to where the flight left from nor where it landed. But it did specify that the personnel and material transported were French.
“Flights will continue on a periodic basis within existing CAF [Canadian Armed Forces] lines of operations until the end of March 2017,” the website added. Canada’s logistical air-support to France is being conducted by CC-177 Globemaster III strategic airlift aircraft from 8 Wing Trenton (eastern Canada), the only Canadian unit equipped with this aircraft. Neither Canadian personnel nor equipment will be stationed in the Sahel region.
In addition, the Canadian government is expected shortly to confirm the deployment of 600 Canadian armed forces personnel with UN forces. Announced in August 2016, this deployment may very well be with MINUSMA (The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) as the UN has already expressed interest in sending Canadian helicopters to Mali.
This is not the first time that Canada has provided logistical support for operation Barkhane. On each of 28 September, 24 November et 12 December 2015 the Canadian armed forces undertook one flight between France and Niger transporting a total of 79.7 tonnes of cargo. Two years earlier, between 15 January and 31 March 2013, a CC-177 Globemaster transported 1,619 tonnes of materiel in 48 rotations in support of France’s operation Serval in Mali which ran between January 2013 and July 2014. The objective of that operation was to stop the advance of Islamic radical forces on the capital Bamako, to secure the city and enable the country to recover its territorial integrity.