After committing four Boeing AH-64D Apache attack helicopters in November last year to support the UN's stabilisation activities in Mali, the Royal Netherlands Air Force has announced it will also deploy three Boeing CH-47 Chinook transport helicopters.

The reason behind the expanding deployment is that the UN cannot guarantee the medical evacuation of Dutch forces on a "24-7" basis. Currently-available civilian helicopters are unable to operate at night or in high-risk areas, due to a lack of self-protection capabilities.

Expected to arrive in the second half of this year, the Dutch Chinooks will be stationed in Gao. In addition to medical evacuation tasks, the rotorcraft will also be used for tactical transport and logistical support. The nation's defence ministry says the cost of committing the additional aircraft is estimated at about €45 million ($62 million).

French helicopters participating in the nation's Operation Serval campaign in Mali will support Dutch ground forces until the Chinooks arrive.

Source: Flight International