A RAF transport aircraft has left the UK on a mission to support the French military quell fighting in the Central African Republic (CAR).
The C17 Globemaster took off from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, to collect military equipment from a French base before flying them to Bangui, the capital of the troubled country. It is the first of three planned RAF airlifts by 99 Squadron to help French armed forces as they support African Union troops in their bid to stabilise the country.
The former French colony has descended into chaos after mainly Muslim rebels seized power in March, leading to tit-for-tat sectarian violence with the Christian majority.
The UN Security Council yesterday (Dec 5) authorised an African-led and French-backed peacekeeping force to quell the spiralling violence. The UN announcement came on the day that Bangui suffered a series of organised attacks, the worst the city has seen during the crisis. At least 105 people were reported killed.
The RAF airlifts will include armoured personnel carriers loaded at the French Air Force base at Istres-Le Tubé near Marseilles. The C17, the latest addition to the RAF’s transport fleet, is ideal for the task and can reach anywhere in the world quickly to respond to any crisis.
Last month a C17 from the same squadron airlifted JCB earth movers and Land Rovers to the Philippines to help with the aid effort following Typhoon Haiyan.
The French operation is the second on the African continent in the last year. In January it pushed back Al Qaeda-linked insurgents in Mali, again with RAF logistical help.
RAF/MOD Copyright 2013
Source / Author: RAF