Britain deploys surveillance aircraft to Mali
Britain’s military says it is deploying a spy plane to Mali to help with the French-led military intervention against the West African country’s Islamist rebels.
The Ministry of Defense said it sent the Sentinel R-1 aircraft, a specially modified jet whose radar can be used to hunt ground targets, Jan. 25.
Britain already has deployed two C-17 cargo planes to aid the offensive against the al-Qaida-linked rebels, who seized a wide swathe of Malian territory last year.
The ministry said in a statement that the Sentinel was deployed following discussions French officials and that it previously had been used in Libya and Afghanistan. AP
New aircraft carrier marks construction milestone
The Navy is marking a major milestone in the construction of its newest aircraft carrier.
The USS Gerald R. Ford is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in 2015. Jan. 26, civilian shipbuilders in Newport News placed the aircraft carrier’s island onto the ship’s flight deck.
The island serves as the command center for the ship’s flight operations and helps give the aircraft carrier its signature look. The Gerald R. Ford is the first aircraft carrier in its class and will replace the USS Enterprise, which was inactivated in December.
With shipbuilders and some of the ship’s future crew looking on, a crane hoisted the 555-metric ton island into place. In a long-standing tradition, commemorative mementos were placed under the island and will later be permanently welded inside it. AP
U.S. to support French in Mali with aerial refueling
The United States has decided to provide additional support to the French military in its war against Islamic militants in Mali by conducting aerial refueling missions.
The Pentagon says Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has told the French defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, that U.S. Africa Command will provide the aerial refueling support. A Pentagon spokesman says the two defense officials discussed the refueling missions and other topics during a phone conversation Jan. 26.
U.S. aerial refueling planes would be a boost to air support for French ground forces as they enter areas of Mali that are controlled by al Qaeda-linked extremists.
The U.S. has already been helping France by transporting French troops and equipment to the West African nation. AP