The Malian junta led by coupist Colonel Assimi Goïta continues to deny overflight permission to Western forces currently fighting jihadists in the region.
Western militaries; UK, France, and Germany cannot operate their aircraft and drones in Malian airspace.
The defense ministry last week said Mali had not granted the required permissions for its reconnaissance drones since October 11.
Germany will end its participation in a UN peacekeeping mission in Mali by the end of next year.
German forces faced increased difficulties in recent months and have repeatedly had to suspend reconnaissance patrols after being denied flyover rights.
In February, Germany deployed five of its CH-53G Super Stallion heavy-lift helicopters, four Heron I drones, and an additional 120 personnel to Gao, Mali to support the United Nations mission (MINUSMA).
“Of course, this has an impact on the execution of the mission — it is considerably restricted,” a spokesman for the ministry said.
Germany operates three 8.5-metre-long Heron drones in Mali since April 2016, mainly to carry out surveillance over roads linking northern cities.
German Heron drones began arriving in Mali in 2016, where they performed mainly intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance tasks.
The German government provided four Heron I drones last year so that it’s military contingent will be able to use two of the unmanned reconnaissance systems simultaneously.
The Heron Is has been flying from Gao in northern Mali since 2016 as part of MINUSMA, and by July 2020 the aircraft had logged more than 11 500 flight hours in over 1 200 operational flights.
Airbus is responsible for the provision, maintenance and repair of the Heron I and the ground control stations, and was awarded a contract that runs till April 2024.
The German military have been in Mali since 2013 with a presence of up to 1,400 soldiers as part of the MINUSMA mission.
In 2012, northern Mali fell into the hands of Islamist insurgents who were pushed back after an intervention by the country’s former colonial power France in early 2013.
Mali’s elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, was toppled in August 2020 by officers angered at the failures to roll back a jihadist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes.
The following year, the military forced out an interim civilian government and started to weave closer ties with the Kremlin, acquiring Russian warplanes and helicopters and bringing in personnel described by the West as mercenaries from the Russian Wagner group.
Relations with France, Mali’s former colonial power and traditional ally, swiftly went sour.
Concerning UK’s military withdrawal Defence Minister James Heappey said Mali’s military rulers were “not willing to work with us to deliver lasting stability and security.”
He added that their “partnership with Wagner group is counterproductive to lasting stability and security in their region.”
The UN Security Council renewed its MINUSMA mandate for one year on June 29, although the junta opposed requests to allow freedom of movement for rights investigators with the mission.
MINUSMA is one of the UN’s biggest peacekeeping operations, with 17,557 troops, police, civilians and volunteers deployed as of June, according to the mission’s website.