Arnaud Delalande examines the slow but steady build-up of the Malian Air Force, which has overcome great odds to tackle both Tuareg rebels and al-Qaeda-linked militants.
After gaining independence from France in 1960, Mali suffered a series of rebellions, a coup and 23 years of military dictatorship before democratic elections in 1992. By January 2013, the country was struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency and when the town of Konna was captured, military assistance from France was requested. French forces were engaged in Opération Serval until July 2014, when it was succeeded by Opération Barkhane, directed against terrorists across the Sahel. Today, a significant force of French troops remains at Gao in Mali.