UK & World News
Mali: RAF Plane Heads To Conflict
An RAF surveillance aircraft has been deployed in support of the French military action in Mali, the Ministry of Defence has announced.
Prime Minister David Cameron pledged extra help for the mission this week amid concern over the threat posed by Islamist militants in North Africa.
The Sentinel R1 - which usually carries a crew of five - has now been added to two C17†Globemaster transport aircraft which have already been sent to the region.
It took off from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "We have now decided to deploy Sentinel, a surveillance capability that has proved its worth in Libya and on an ongoing basis for counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan.
"We have also agreed to continue to make available a C17 heavy lift transport aircraft which has already provided important logistical support over recent days."
Mr Cameron has insisted that Britain does not intend to deploy ground troops.
He spoke earlier this week of a global "generational struggle" against al Qaeda-inspired Islamist terrorism in North Africa.
He said the UK should "thicken" links with the region following this month's hostage crisis in Algeria.
Britain will provide troops to an EU mission to train the Malian military to take on Islamist militants who have taken over the north of the country, he added.
The mission, due to deploy in February or March, is expected to include around 250 trainers and 250 force protection troops.
Mr Cameron said the British contribution would number "in the tens, not the hundreds", with aides saying it would be at the lower end of that range.
what do you think?
Why are we giving France any assistance in Mali,they have pulled there pathetic token force out of Afghanistan just a the Italians did some 2 years ago. Neither of them had ground troops in a hostile erea and did nothing for the war effort. Italy have the distinction of having the smallest book of war heroes. France have compaces which only point to thr rear. We need allies like these as much as we need a hole in the head. Dont send any of our Soldiers on another worthles mission.
I think France should be our closest military allie (in Europe) for all sorts of reasons. Long History! They no doubt had bad memories if IndoChina. Just because they pulled out of Afganistan does not preclude us from diong an assist in N Afrika. The US will not,...probably, and Mali/Sahara is in the close Mediterranean sphere, close to EU. And ultimately it is us and europe that they want to hit.
Err..should be ally...?
Here we go - just over a week and already mission creep has started. Wil lthe French help us if we need them in the Falklands? Answers on the back of a postage stamp. Oh, and Cameron says no ground troops, but then provides 'force protection troops' - will these hover above the ground?
He means RAF Regt troops i think. Air Force infantry for securing airstrips and aviation assets. Good points re Falklands and mission creep.
Now Dave's jihadists chums in Libya are threatening westerners, it isn't safe for British citizens says the Foreign Office. Pity he handed the terrorists a country and it's weapons on a plate. I expect bungs from oil companies figure somewhere in this affair.
My, my, quite a lot of terrorist sympathisers it appears.
These are the planes that are soon to be made redundant after a few years of service it stinlks