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 Deployments and operations

Operation 'Support to Mali'

Detachment 'Marfil' (Senegal)
Apoyo a Malí-Destacamento Marfil-Senegal


Following the French military intervention in Mali, on January 18th, 2013, through an agreement of the Council of Ministers, Spain decided to support the French efforts with three measures:

The first measure aimed at facilitating the French deployment and aerial operations to the operations area. It consisted on authorising the use of sovereign air space and the area adjacent to territorial waters by French aircrafts participating in the operation.

The second measure consisted on accelerating planning under the scope of the European Union to establish the FAM training mission called EUTM Mali.

And lastly, the deployment of air assets. The deployment included an Air Force T-10 Hercules aircraft, which on March 2020 was replaced by a T-21 to operate from Dakar in support of the UN and Barkane operation.


France prompted Operation Serval in January 2013 to stop the advance of jihadis towards the south of Mali, to prevent the fall of the capital (Bamako) and to liberate the main northern cities that had become a safe haven for terrorists.

In the same month, Spain joined the mission with its decision to facilitate the overflights and temporary landing of aircrafts from EU member countries and with the deployment of the Marfil detachment in Dakar (Senegal).

Subsequently, Serval was, along with other French operations in West Africa, absorbed into Operation Barkhane, which the Spanish Armed Forces have continued to contribute to.  The mission centres on the contribution of French intratheater transport through Operation Barkhane and the United Nations MINUSMA mission.

Detachment Marfil supports the EUTM-Mali´s Spanish contingent, the EU mission to train the Malian Army. The Spanish contribution are two transport airplanes T21 (AIRBUS C-295) belonging to the Spanish Air Force and 65 airmen.

Detachment 'Marfil' operates in 19 countries, covering an area of more than 5,200 km.


The Mali crisis began in January 2012, when a tuareg uprising, promoted by the Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA), began in the north of the country.

Due to the weakness of the Government against the uprising, a coup d’état took place, that marked the overthrow of the then president, Amadu Tumani Turé, and the beginning of a period of political turbulence.

Independence was declared in the north of Mali, while the MNLA were left defeated by three jihadist movements; Magreb Al Qaeda, Mujao and Ansar Dine.

Events accelerated on 10th January 2013, when Ansar Dine broke the truce and headed an invasion of the south. This invasion threatened the city of Mopti, whose conquest would have left the path clear to Bamako.

In July 2014, France decided to expand the scope of the operation along the fringe of the Sahel to increase the efficacy of the fight against terrorism. This led to relocation of the Bamako (Mali) headquarters to D´jamena (Chad) and a name change for the operation, which was to be called ´Barkhane´ from 1st August 2014.



  • July 16th. Spanish Air Force military personnel deployed within the DAT 'Marfil' take over.
  • April 21st. ESP CHOD, admiral general López Calderón, visits 'Marfil' Detachment and meets with his Senegalese counterpart.
  • April 19th. 33rd Air Force contingent of 'Marfil' Detachment takes over the mission.
  • April 9th. Spain's Prime Minister visits 'Marfil' Tactical Air Detachment.
  • January 18th. 32nd Air Force contingent of 'Marfil' Detachment takes over the mission.


  •  October 2nd. El Destacamento Marfil del Ejército del Aire, bajo control operativo del Mando de Operaciones (MOPS), ha realizado el relevo de personal para dar continuidad a su misión de apoyo a Francia en el Sahel.
  •  July 17th. A second T-21 airplane reinforces spanish capabilities within Detachment 'Marfil' showing Spain's commitmet to France's counter terrorism in the SAHEL region.
  •  June 29th. Following all health protocols agaisnt the COVID-19 pandemic, military personnel from Detachment 'Marfil' is relieved.
  •  March 28th. Relevo de T10 por un T21 procedente de DAT Mamba. En la misión está previsto operar con dos T21.
  •  January, 16th. The 29th contingent has taken over the Marfil Detachment.


  •  April 22. The 26th contingent, with the lieutenant colonel Juan Gonzalo Fernández González in charge, has taken over the Marfil Detachment, located at the Aérienne Senghor air base.
  •  January 17. Handover/takeover (HOTO) of the Marfil Detachment to support the fight against terrorism takes place. The Lieutenant Colonel Emilio Asensio Bautista Martínez is in charge of the 25th contingent.


  •  July 20. Rotation nº 23 has taken over from the Marfil Detachment, under the command of lieutenant colonel Alberto Rodís Martínez.
  •  April 18: Lieutenant colonel Manuel De Miguel Ramírez takes over from the Detachment in charge of the 22nd contingent.
  •  January 29. The Marfil Detachment turns 5 years operating from its base in Dakar (Senegal). It has transported 3.700 tonnes of cargo and more than 22.000 passengers during its mission flying over the Sahel.


  •  December 28. Participation in the mission is extended till December 2018. The current level of 50 forces is maintained.
  •  February 17. First in-flight refueling within Barkhane operation.  


  •  January 15. “Marfil” Detachment flights for the first time to Tessalit (Malí).


  •  December 18th. The T-10 aircraft deployed in Darkar reaches 1.000 hours of flight.
  •  February. 648 passengers have been transported this month, reaching the maximum number so far.


  •  January 29. The T-10 aircraft (C-130 Hércules) performs its first mission.
  •  January 26. The first contingent of the Marfil Detachment is deployed in Dakar (Senegal).


  • Signing change of command

    Take over of the Air Force contingent of the 'Marfil' Tactical Air Detachment

    Take over of the Air Force contingent of the 'Marfil' Tactical Air Detachment


    In Dakar, Senegal

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  • The incoming commander signing the TOA minutes

    The 33rd Air Force contingent takes over at 'Marfil' Detachment

    The 33rd Air Force contingent takes over at 'Marfil' Detachment


    Dakar, Senegal

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  • PM within T-21 cockpit

    Spain's Prime Minister visits tactical air detachment 'Marfil'

    Spain's Prime Minister visits tactical air detachment 'Marfil'



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  • TOA's signature ceremony

    Detachment Marfil’s 32nd contingent takes over

    Detachment Marfil’s 32nd contingent takes over


    Dakar (SENEGAL)

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  • Commanders signing relief's minutes

    Detachment Marfil relieves its staff to keep up the Spanish contribution in the Sahel

    Detachment Marfil relieves its staff to keep up the Spanish contribution in the Sahel



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