TWO Royal Air Force Boeing C17 Globemaster planes from RAF Brize Norton have been deployed to carry French troops and equipment to Africa.

After Islamist rebels made major gains in Mali, French President Francois Hollande ordered his armed forces to step in and asked Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron for logistical support.

The C17s, which are able to carry much heavier loads than any French air force transport planes, were dispatched to Evreux air base, west of Paris, to collect their cargo.

After being delayed by a technical fault, the first plane left for Mali’s capital, Bamako, on Monday. The second flight was due to arrive there yesterday.

One of the planes is expected to remain in Africa for the rest of the week to transport troops from other West African countries to Mali.