El Salvador to send six MD500s to Mali in support of UN mission

The El Salvador military would assist the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission Mali (MINUSMA) in its operations by providing six MD500 helicopters.

The MD500 helicopters would assume the attack and support role formerly performed by German Tiger attack helicopters. Mosst of the German fleet was grounded and are expected to be pulled out by the end of the year.

Nicknamed the Little Bird or Killer Egg, the fast and nimble MD500 series of helicopters has long proven its worth as a scout and light attack platform, in 2015 three MD500Es from the Air Force of El Salvador landed in the Malian city of Tumbuktu.

This deployment represents nearly 50 percent of El Salvador’s entire fleet of MD500Es since the country only have eight MD500s in its inventory.

Last year November, El Salvador’s Col. Palacios Garay told news agency Dialogo that although the mission was only supposed to last for one year, “But El Salvador is prepared to stay in Mali for five years, depending on the UN mandate.”

Other helicopters expected to join the mission includes four Canadian Army -armed CH-146 Griffon helicopters to escort and protect the two CH-47s about to be deployed to Mali

Therefore, the United Nation would have to make do with Two different light attack helicopters (MD500E and CH-146 Griffon) for its attack and fire support roles.

Germany currently has four Tiger utility helicopters in Mali to provide protection for troops on the ground, all are been removed from the theater after one of them crashed. The Netherlands also had four Apache attack helicopters but has been pulled out.

Ekene Lionel

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