Canada assists France with C-17 in Mali

Updated: 2013-01-15 05:06


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OTTAWA - Canada will be providing one C-17 military cargo plane to assist equipment transport into the Malian capital of Bamako at the request from France, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Monday.

In a statement, Harper stressed that the Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft is in a non-combat role for a period of one week and will not operate in any combat zone.

"At no time will Canadian Armed Forces members be participating in direct action against insurgent forces in Mali," he said, adding that his government received on Monday a specific request from the French government for heavy-lift aircraft in Mali.

"The government of Canada is deeply concerned by recent events in Mali," Harper said. "The establishment of a terrorist region in the middle of Africa is of grave concern to the broader international community, including Canada and our close allies."

Harper promised that Canada will continue to provide humanitarian aid and development assistance to this region to help alleviate the worsening humanitarian conditions.

French President Francois Hollande authorized airstrikes last week against the al-Qaeda linked insurgents in the north following their taking control of the northern part of Mali and making gains towards the south.

France has ordered the immediate evacuation of all French nationals living in the Malian town of Segou.

In December last year, the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 2085, which called upon member states to provide coordinated assistance to the Malian Defense and Security Forces in order to reduce the threat posed by terrorist organizations.

Last week, Harper pledged that Canada would work diplomatically with its allies on how best to address the situation in Mali without a direct Canadian military mission in Mali.

Harper made the comments on Parliament Hill following a meeting with Thomas Boni Yayi, the president of Benin and the head of the African Union who was on an official visit to Canada.

Canada is prepared, consistent with the UN Security Council Resolution, to provide limited and clearly defined logistical support to assist the forces that are intervening in Mali, he added.

The C-17, produced in the United States, commonly performs strategic airlift missions, transporting troops and cargo throughout the world; additional roles include tactical airlift, medical evacuation and airdrop duties.

With a maximum payload of 77,500 kg and a maximum takeoff weight of 265,350 kg, the C-17 requires a crew of three (pilot, copilot, and loadmaster) for cargo operations and has an unrefueled range of about 5,000 km at a cruise speed of 833 km/h.