Belgian Air Force, February 12, 2018 - The Belgian NH90 helicopters were welcomed in Gao this weekend. After their arrival earlier this week at Bamako airport, both helicopters were prepared in just two days.
The climate conditions in Mali require extra measures. The NH90 technician Steve explains: "One of the great challenges for pilots is the brownout : a maneuver over sandy ground that creates a large cloud of dust that reduces visibility to zero".
To overcome this they have applied a special coating to the blades for the misson in Mali. That coating, however requires a specific adjustment. To better protect the engines, they have installed extra sand filters and an anti-FOD grill ( foreign object damage ).
The next step is the UN qualification for the pilots. Their main task is to evacuate injured people from combat zones ( forward air medevac) from the German contingent in Gao.
Captain Kite Pieter explains: "We can place a few stretchers in the helicopter together with a nurse and a surgeon. We tested this thoroughly during the pre-deployment training in Fasberg, Germany. There we and our Air Mobile Protection Team (AMPT) worked closely with the Germans. "During interventions, the AMPT ensures tactical safety on the ground.