The French Navy’s Charles de Gaulle carrier battle group is back on the front line in operation Chammal, targeting Islamic State (IS) positions in Iraq and Syria. It is the third deployment of the French carrier in the fight against IS since February 2015. For the first time, the carrier features an all-Rafale fleet of 24 fighters, following the retirement of the last Super Etendards this summer.
On 30th September and 1st October, French AF Rafales deployed in Jordan and United Arab Emirates and Navy Rafales flying from the Charles de Gaulle performed a total of 18 missions in support of Iraqi ground forces. A French AF AWACS aircraft and a French Navy Hawkeye provided surveillance during these missions, which included strikes on IS positions in the vicinity of Mosul. A major offensive on Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, is expected in the near future.
The French forces deployed in operation Chammal, now include 36 Rafales (24 carrier-based and 12 in Jordan and the UAE), a Caesar artillery unit, the carrier battle group, one E3F AWACS aircraft, one C-135 FR tanker aircraft, two E-2C Hawkeyes and one Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft. Around 100 military personnel have also been deployed to Baghdad and Erbil to provide training and support for Iraqi forces.