Canada sends C-17 plane to help French military mission in Mali

Ottawa — The Globe and Mail

Minister of Defence Peter MacKay shakes hands with a Canadian forces member of the 429 squardon at CFB Trenton, in Trenton, Ont., on Tuesday Jan. 15, 2013. (Lars Hagberg/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Canadian military was forced to swap one heavy-lift plane for another Tuesday after mechanical problems grounded a C-17 assigned to backstop France’s military intervention in Mali.

A C-17 Globemaster aircraft finally took off from Canadian Forces Base Trenton for France at 12:10 pm ET, more than four hours after the flight was supposed to depart.

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A spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s office said the original plane was foiled by a faulty generator.

These aircraft are not aged. Canada purchased four C-17 transports in 2007 and 2008 from Boeing to give this country the capacity to transport huge military shipments.

The Malian government and the French, former colonizers there, are fighting jihadist forces who already control the African country’s north.

The Globemaster will fly to France where it will be loaded with equipment and personnel bound for Bamako, Mali’s capital city. Canada has agreed to contribute the plane for one week to help ferry war supplies or troops into Bamako which is about 350 kilometres from the fighting.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday morning at Trenton, Mr. MacKay said Canadian Forces aren’t looking for a fight and the mission is only slated to last one week.

“There is no intention here to be in a conflict zone,” he said.