By air and by land, the French military is on the attack in the embattled West African state of Mali. Ten months after the takeover of the country’s north by al-Qaida-affiliated Islamic militants, a sudden assault by rebel forces towards the capital of Bamako on Friday provoked a powerful response by France, Mali’s former colonial ruler.
French drones scouted targets as warplanes dropped bombs and helicopter gunships launched missiles. Tanker planes supported the aerial armada while rented and borrowed airlifters hauled in troops and armored vehicles to Bamako. On Wednesday French and Malian ground forces headed north from the capital to do battle with the militants.
“The real question is, now what?” said Army Gen. Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command. The Pentagon is considering adding it own drones and support forces to the French “Operation Serval,” but U.S. leaders are understandably reluctant given the tenacity of rebel resistance and the potential for a drawn-out conflict.
What follows are the 10 most important weapons of the fighting so far in Mali. Most of them are French, although Paris’ allies and one private company have also contributed hardware. If the war drags on much longer and the U.S. gets involved, the major weaponry of the Mali war could start looking a lot more familiar to American audiences.