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Relief of the 44th contingent of the Air and Space Force tactical air detachment 'Marfil'.

In Thiès, Senegal.
April 30, 2024
  • After three months of intense work in the area of operations, the relief among the Spanish contingents participating in the mission to support France in its fight against the terrorist threat in the Sahel, has taken place.

At the facilities of the 'Escale Aéronautique Commandant LEMAITRE' of the Blaise Diagne International Airport, the official ceremony of taking office and handover between the incoming and outgoing contingent Commanders of the Tactical Air Detachment (DAT in Spanish) 'Marfil' took place. The ceremony was chaired by Colonel Antonio Miguel Romón Almansa, of the Operations Command Staff. Following the protocol, Lieutenant Colonel Raúl Ávila Gómez received the command of the DAT 'Marfil', replacing the Lieutenant Colonel Luis Miguel Castillo Ortiz, who assumed office on 29 January. 

In a brief speech, Colonel Romón thanked the Force Commander of the 44th contingent for his efforts and achievements accomplished during his deployment, encouraging his successor to continue to achieve goals, thereby reaffirming Spain's commitment to peace and international security, particularly in the sub-Saharan region.

DAT ‘Marfil’

The Tactical Air Detachment 'Marfil' of the Air and Space Force belonging to Operation A/M, operates from the 'Escale Aéronautique Commandant LEMAITRE', in the facilities of the French Elements in Senegal (EFS in Spanish) at the Blaise Diagne International Airport, a few kilometres from Dakar (Senegal). Under the operational command of the Operations Command (MOPS in Spanish), it is entrusted to carry out intra-theatre tactical and logistical air transport missions, as well as in-flight refuelling, in the case that the air assets deployed allow it, in support of France in its fight against terrorism. Similarly, the Detachment also supports the United Nations mission MINUSCA, for the stabilisation of the Central African Republic, as well as the European Union missions EUTM RCA and EUTM Mali.

The Detachment is made up of 60 military personnel from different Air and Space Force units, mostly personnel belonging to the 35th Wing, the Air Deployment Support Squadron (EADA in Spanish) and the Mobile Air Control Group (GRUMOCA in Spanish). It operates with an 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 Spanish aircraft, which operates H24 in the joint operations area.

This Detachment is an example of the capabilities provided by the Air and Space Force to other Armed Forces, where availability and operational readiness are paramount. The resources 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, combined with the large area of operations where the missions are carried out, are a constant challenge for the Detachment's aircrews.

After eleven years of operation, the Air Tactical Detachment 'Marfil' has become a further example of the Armed Forces' contribution to the State's external action in its commitment to international peace and security.