A group of 88 Senegalese children, aged between 7 and 11, enjoyed an open day at the facilities of the `Escale Aéronautique Commandant LEMAITRE’ at the Blaise Diagne International Airport. Throughout the visit, the health and safety measures imposed by COVID-19 were respected.
During the day, the children took part in various activities, including a children's application track with a parachutist diploma, a media stand with portable radios provided by the detachment and a static visit to one of the C-295 aircraft deployed in the Spanish mission in the area.
The visit ended with a group photo of the Spanish military and the participating children. This kind of activity helps to welcome the Spanish presence in the area of operations, improving the image and perception of the civilian population in the areas of deployment.
Spanish Air Force's DAT 'Marfil' operates from the ‘Escale Aéronautique Commandant LEMAITRE’, in the facilities of the French Elements in Senegal (EFS) at the Blaise Diagne International Airport, a few kilometres from Dakar (Senegal). its mission is operating as an intra-theatre tactical and logistical airlift missions, as well as in-flight refuelling, if the air assets deployed so permit, in support of France in its fight against terrorism within the framework of Operation Barkhane.
The detachment also supports the United Nations missions MINUSMA and MINUSCA, to stabilise Mali and Central Africa respectively, as well as the European Union missions EUTM RCA and EUTM Mali, to support the training and education of the armed forces of these countries, and the G5 Sahel Joint Force.
The detachment is made up of 70 military personnel from different Air Force units, mostly personnel from the 35th Wing, the Air Deployment Support Squadron (EADA) and the Mobile Air Control Group (GRUMOCA). It operates with two Airbus C295 (T-21) aircraft belonging to the 35th Wing of the Getafe Air Base. The mission's Joint Force Air Component Command (JFACC), located in Lyon (France), is in charge of scheduling the missions of the two Spanish aircraft, which operate H24 in the Joint Operations Area (JOA), an extensive area that includes 21 African countries, slightly larger than continental Europe.
This detachment is an example of the capabilities provided by the Air Force to other Armed Forces, where availability and operability are paramount. The assets operate in a sub-Saharan environment, often in unprepared camps and in extreme weather conditions of high temperatures and heavy rain due to frequent seasonal storms. These factors, coupled with the large area of operations where missions are conducted, are a constant challenge for the Detachment's aircrews.
After more than eight years of operation, the DAT Marfil is consolidated as an outstanding contribution of the Spanish Armed Forces to the external action of the State in its commitment to international peace and security.