The second of three Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) Chinooks has returned to its home base of Gilze-Rijen from Mali on board a Strategic Airlift Capability C-17.
The helicopters flew troop and materiel transport and medical evacuation missions for the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Until January, the Chinooks, as well as MINUSMA ground troops were protected by four RNLAF Apaches, which also conducted reconnaissance missions.
The first Chinook arrived home March 16 and the third and last helicopter is scheduled to arrive in mid-April. The Apaches were already airlifted to the Netherlands in January. The RNLAF has produced a video of its two-and-a-half year helicopter mission in Mali.
The Chinooks were replaced by German NH90 medical evacuation helicopters March 1. The Apaches will be replaced by four German Tiger combat helicopters in May which are being airlifted to Mali by the end of March. The German helicopters are being airlifted by leased Antonov An-124-100s to Mali from Leipzig/Halle.
The German Tiger and NH90 mission in Mali is scheduled to last until mid-2018. In the meantime, an international helicopter rotation solution is being sought for supporting MINUSMA.