World Bulletin / News Desk
The United States has agreed to fly tankers to refuel French jet fighters and bombers attacking fighters who have established a foothold in northern Mali, U.S. defense officials said on Saturday.
The decision, in response to an earlier French request, expands U.S. involvement, which so far has been limited to sharing intelligence and providing airlift support to carry a French mechanized infantry unit to Mali.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told his French counterpart, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, about the U.S. decision to provide aerial refueling support during a phone call on Saturday, Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement.
A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said three U.S. KC-135 tankers would provide aerial refueling as necessary to French aircraft, including tactical jets and bombers. The U.S. planes are stationed at Moron Air Base in Spain.
The defense official said the United States expected the tankers to be involved in the operation for a period of months as needed. They will be operating under the U.S. Africa Command, which coordinates U.S. military involvement with African countries but is based in Germany.
Panetta has said the United States has no plans to put combat troops in Mali. Defense officials have said a small number of U.S. military personnel were temporarily at the airport in Bamako to deal with the logistics of the airlift of hundreds of French troops and tons of supplies.Last Mod: 27 Ocak 2013, 10:03