Barkhane: First Tactical Operational Mission in the Sahel for the A400M
(Source: French Defence HQ; issued Oct 04, 2017)
(Issued in French; unofficial translation by Defense-Aerodpace.com)
A French air force A400M transport aircraft has carried out its first operational mission to Niger, carrying helicopters, freight and personnel directly from France onto a semi-prepared dirt landing strip. (French AF photo)
On Friday, September 1, an A400M Atlas from the 61st Transport Wing based in Orleans landed at the Madama advanced operating base in Niger. This was the first time since the testing phase in 2016 that the aircraft performed this type of tactical landing under operational conditions in the Sahelo-Saharan strip.

This flight confirmed the A400M’s transport capabilities on unprepared ground, in support of the trilateral operation carried out jointly in north-east Niger by the Nigerian and Chadian armed forces and the Barkhane Force.

For this operation, called MAI BOULALA, nearly 200 soldiers of the Barkhane Force from Gao in Mali and N'Djamena in Chad were transported, together with several tonnes of freight. But it is especially for the transport of VAB armored vehicles and helicopters that the A400M has demonstrated its high added value: "Thanks to the large size of its fuselage, this aircraft can transport of outsize cargo over long distances without requiring the long and difficult dismantling and preparation before loading for the flight," says the captain.

A Puma battlefield transport helicopter and a Gazelle light helicopter were transported across the Sahel in a very short time thanks to the capabilities offered by the latest Air Force transport aircraft.

Having arrived in the Sahel region on August 30, flying in from Air Base 123 in Orléans, this A400M also delivered directly to Gao a field scanner for the medical center of the desert operational platform.

The capabilities of the A400M give the Barkhane Force a transport asset capable of projecting a large volume of soldiers and equipment over a territory as large as Europe, several thousand kilometers from its base, and in a very short time.

With its tactical performance and its transport possibilities, the A400M multiplies the logistic capacities of the Barkhane force, offering a vast range of new modes of action.

Conducted by the French armed forces in partnership with the Sahel G5 countries, Operation Barkhane was launched on 1 August 2014. It is based on a strategic partnership with the main Sahel-Saharan countries: Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso.

It comprises some 4,000 military personnel whose mission is to support the armed forces of the partner countries in their efforts to combat terrorist armed groups in the region and to support the armed forces of the partner countries so that they can face this threat, particularly in the framework of the joint G5 Sahel force being established.

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