The Air Force continues its airlift support of the French military as the US ally’s combat operations proceed against Islamist terrorists in northern Mali. As of Jan. 27, C-17 transports completed a total of 15 missions, carrying 329.5 tons of cargo and transporting 496 passengers into Mali, US Air Forces in Europe spokesman Jerry Renne told the Daily Report on Monday. The first sortie occurred on Jan. 21, with a C-17 assigned to Dover AFB, Del., delivering troops and equipment from Istres in southern France to Bamako, Mali, according to a Pentagon release on Jan. 25. French air force Maj. Eric Chabaud, chief of aircraft services at Istres, said US aircraft commanders receive the load plans for review after French personnel prepare the cargo and equipment. “It’s good for us to work together on things like this, because we want to be an asset to the operation, not a hindrance,” said Chabaud. “We have a very good relationship with the Americans here right now, and we help them any time we can,” he added. (Istres report by SSgt. Nathanael Callon)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.