An A400M airlifter has been used for the first time to transport a French Army Tiger combat helicopter directly from France to Gao, Mali.
A French Air Force A400M airlifter has carried a French Army Tiger combat helicopter to Gao, Mali. It is the first time the combat helicopter has been delivered directly to the Gao platform. The flight was completed on 6th June.
The French forces normally rely on chartered Antonov An-124s for this type of mission. The An-124 requires a hard landing strip such as the one available at Niamey airport in Niger.
The use of the A400M Atlas, which loaded the Tiger at Orléans, enabled the helicopter to be directly delivered to the theatre of operations, bypassing Niamey and saving valuable time. This type of mission provides a good illustration of the A400M's capabilities as a tactical airlifter with strategic range.
A total of eight technicians from the 1st combat helicopter regiment in Phalsbourg removed the main rotor blades, along with the stub wings and turret prior to loading the helicopter into the Atlas hold. The 10-hour operation also involved reducing the overall height of the aircraft.
It is not the first time that an A400M has been used to transport a Tiger helicopter as part of Operation Barkhane. In April 2016, a Tiger of the 5th combat helicopter regiment was flown back to France on an Atlas.