About fifty Air Force planes took off from several bases to carry out a nuclear mission. A sequence called Poker and that the Strategic Air Forces hold four times a year.
Strategic Air Force Poker
Even while in operations, as this summer in Iraq (with Dassault Rafale) or permanently in the Sahel (with tankers), the Strategic Air Forces (FAS) tirelessly train for the nuclear mission. On Tuesday, September 15, around fifty Air Force planes took off from several French bases to carry out one of these raids, obviously without real fire. These sequences are called Poker, and are held four times a year. At Saint-Dizier air base 113, a first wave of four Rafales took to the air around 8:45 p.m., under the orders of the buried CP commanded by an officer of the 1/4 Gascogne fighter squadron. Inside what looks rather like a submarine, with a maze of passageways, the aviators obviously live with barrier gestures, the mask, but in an atmosphere ultimately quite close to those found in CBRN contexts .
Nuclear overhead train
All the aircraft have converged to take the nuclear overhead train which performs a tour of France for about five hours of flight, interspersed with supplies and phases of harassment by "opposing" fighters. Two of these "red air" took off from Saint-Dizier, Rafale Marine aircraft from the Rafale transformation squadron (ETR) 3/4 Aquitaine. Throughout the night, the rescue helicopter squadrons remain ready to take into account an unforeseen event, since sequences are played out over the sea. In fact, in several points of the territory, a good part of the army of the the air beats to the rhythm of Poker: air traffic controllers, rescue specialists, air bases if aircraft had to be picked up, etc. On airborne bases (BAVN) such as Saint-Dizier, the air commando rifles, often invisible but very present, are on the teeth to ensure the appropriate seal.
About twenty bombers
The fifty aircraft are broken down into twenty nuclear bombers, ten support planes (Awacs, tankers, etc.) and ten "red air" which ensure the realism of the complex operation. Poker is a recurring one, which occurs four times a year in an unchanging fashion. The FAS had conducted one during the lockdown, as if to demonstrate their immunity to the outside environment. And another took place last June. No Poker is like the other. Yesterday, the departures on mission from Saint-Dizier were carried out without radio contact with the control tower.