April 15, 2014:
In early April the Netherlands agreed to send four AH-64 helicopter gunships and three CH-47 transport helicopters to Mali to provide fire support, transportation and medical evacuation for the 5,000 peacekeepers stationed there. Currently peacekeepers have a few of the smaller Tiger gunships and smaller helicopter transports. The peacekeeper force is expanding to 10,000 by the middle of 2014 and the Dutch helicopters will be needed to keep up with transportation needs. The Dutch will send about 700 troops to operate and maintain their helicopters.
The Tiger is a six ton helicopter compared to ten tons for the AH-64. Both carry two crew, auto-cannon and missiles, but the AH-64 can stay in the air nearly an hour longer and carries twice as many missiles. The AH-64 also handles better in the mountains of northern Mali. The 22 ton CH-47 carries twice as much (up to ten tons) as most helicopter transports in Mali. CH-47 moves a bit faster and stays airborne longer. It can also carry up to 55 troops, three times what the UH-60 or Mi-17 can handle. The Dutch will operate from an airbase outside the northern city of Gao. Many of the Dutch aircrew and maintainers are veterans of Afghanistan, which is good experience if you are operating in northern Mali.