An RAF surveillance aircraft has been deployed in support of the French military action in Mali, the Ministry of Defence said.
Prime Minister David Cameron pledged extra help for the mission this week amid concern over the threat posed by Islamist militants in north Africa.
The Sentinel - which usually carries a crew of five - has now been added to two C17 transport aircraft which have already been sent to the region.
Mr Cameron has insisted that Britain does not intend to deploy ground troops.
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