Several Rafale were sent to Djibouti at the end of december, with A330 MRTT support, for an Air & Space Forces exercise . The goal was to train FAS (Strategic Air Forces) for a Long-Distance Raid.
Strategic Air Forces
As part of Minotaure military exercise, 5 Dassault Rafale have browsed 8000 kilometers, from Istres to Djibouti, with support of one AWACS and tanker aircrafts. The goal of this exercise was to deploy airborne capabilities outside French territory, and to fought, at the arrival, in a high-intensity fight. Rafale- A 330 feat is considered by FAS as « game changer »
Were deployed, for this exercise, 3 Rafale from 4th Fighter Squadron, located at Saint-Dizier Air Base ; and 3 Rafale from 30th Fighter Squadron, located at Mont-de-Marsan Air Base. Arriving in Djibouti, three Rafale B had to penetrate adverse defences and to simulate a missile launch, when 2 Rafale C protected them, explained French Ministry of Defence
Tanker Aircrafts Airbus A330 MRTT Phénix
During this exercise, tanker aircrafts Airbus A330 MRTT Phénix and old KC-135 were in support of Dassault Rafale. « In operational terms, the transition to MRTT represents a quantum leap in capability for the French armed forces, due to its performance, flexibility of use, low operating costs and wide range of missions covered. The architecture of the Phénix will allow simultaneous refuelling and transport missions for freight, passengers and casualties. This invites us to rethink the way in which air operations are designed. » declared FAS commander Général Maigret to Air & Cosmos in October.
Until 2023, 20 Rafale, supported by 10 MRTT, could be sent at the other side of the planet, in 48 hours.
Alongside the fighters and tankers, the French Air and Space Forces had also deployed an E-3F from the Avord Air Base as part of Minotaure exercise. "Offering enhanced detection of all threats, it guarantees a perfect knowledge of the air situation for the crews, but also for the SAF operations centre (COFAS), which can monitor the progress of such an operation in real time, thanks in particular to tactical data links (L16)," the French Ministry of Defence added. The intelligence provided by the AWACS was all the more crucial for the second part of the operation, aimed at penetrating the opposing defences, played by Mirage 2000-5 aircraft, of Djibouti Air Base 188. Other exercises are also planned in the region in the coming weeks, to be conducted by the CFA (air force command) and the CDAOA (air defence and air operations command).