MilitaryMali: European coalition force reinforced by Spanish NH90 helicopter

Mali: European coalition force reinforced by Spanish NH90 helicopter

 The aerial component of the European Union Training Mission (EUTM) in Mali will now be able to call upon the airlift capability of Spain’s NH90 tactics troops transport helicopter (TTH).

The Spanish Army has sent three NH90 TTH helicopters and personnel from the Rotary Wing Force to Mali as part of its commitments.

The NH90 helicopters will be undertaking their first overseas deployment in the coming months to take part in the European Union Training Mission (EUTM) in Mali to support the Malian Army.

The contingent left Spain early last month and is due to arrive at Bamako airport to join EUTM Mali as a member of the Intra-Theater Air Transport unit (ITAT).

The first NH90 helicopter that arrived in Bamako in June was welcomed by Brigadier General Fernando Luis GRACIA Herreiz, Commander of the Force of the European Union Training Mission (EUTM) in Mali.

Brigadier General Fernando Luis noted that; “the improvements offered by this latest-generation helicopter (enhanced speed, range, and navigation, all-weather capacity, more secure communications, greater load capacity at high altitude and in hot conditions, etc.) enhance our effectiveness when carrying out missions such as tactical transport, aerial assaults and other special operations in the most demanding conditions.”

The first NH90 helicopter was partly disassembled and flown aboard an Antonov An-124 heavy-lift aircraft.

“Spain’s firm commitment to the mission has been demonstrated by the provision of a Commanding General to the Mission in the first semester of 2021. His leadership, devotion, and commitment have undoubtedly boosted the effective deployment of the ITAT in Mali,” the EUTM said.

“In the context of Mandate 5 of EUTM Mali, approved by the European Union in April 2020, a decentralization of training activities to the Armed Forces of Mali was mentioned, as well as the expansion of the mission area to the other four countries of the G5 Sahel. To make this project possible, it was considered necessary to have an air transport unit at the disposal of EUTM Mali, to provide freedom of movement. Spain, committed to the stability of the Sahel, offered this rotary-wing unit to the mission,” the Spanish defense ministry also disclosed.

Spanish NH90s are flown by the BHELMA III (3rd Manoeuvre Helicopter Battalion) of the FAMET (Spanish Army Airmobile Force), and in Mali will assist with providing tactical transport, support for special operations forces, combat recovery and combat search and rescue, electronic warfare, logistics support, medical evacuation operations and fire support with their two M3M MK3 12.7 mm machine guns.

Meanwhile, Spain’s commitment to The Intra-Theatre Air Transport (ITAT) structure in Mali, under the command of Commander Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Matías is composed of sixty-two soldiers;  The flight unit, the maintenance unit, the supply unit, the transmission unit, and the command unit.

In September 2016, the Spanish Army received its first NH90 tactical troop transport helicopters (TTH), since then, a total of 14 NH90s have been delivered in the Standard 1 and 2 configurations.

Ekene Lionel
Ekene Lionel is an author for The Aviator Africa, covering military aviation. He has worked as a journalist and defense tech writer for 5 years, much of that time focusing on military and emerging technologies.

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