In a first for Opération Barkhane, according to a May 17 press release, the Armée de l’Air carried out its first airdrop by means of an extraction parachute over Madama in the north of Niger in late April.
The previous 48 air-drops by French forces in the Sahel region, all carried out in 2016, were standard parachute drops. The newly adopted technique allows the dropping of larger and heavier loads over the target areas, which are often forward operating bases (FOBs) located in remote areas difficult to access by road. Using the extraction parachute method means that more water, rations, fuel and materiel can be delivered in a single sortie, resulting in fewer re-supply sorties to the FOBs. This in turns relieves some of the operational pressure on the French tactical transport assets in the region. There is one drawback in that the extraction parachute involves additional work for those on the ground; the kits are re-usable so ground forces have to collect them for future re-deployment.