For the first time since the Rafale became operational with the French Air Force, these 5th generation fighter jets said “hello” to the island of Réunion, located in the Indian Ocean – about 500 miles (800 km) east of Madagascar.
Two Rafale Bs from EC 1/91 based at Airbase BA 113 Saint-Dizier flew to the airport of Saint-Denis at La Réunion, together with a Boeing C135FR tanker of 2/91 Bretagne from BA 125 Istres. The entire detachment left from Istres, with the Rafales landing after 10:35 hours of flight on 22 April at Saint-Denis. The C135 was airborne for half an hour longer.
One of the exercise missions flown by the Rafales was a close air support to 2nd Marine Paratrooper Regiment based at Saint-Pierre on the southern coast of the island on 23 April.
The deployment of the Rafales marks the first time that Détachement Air 181 (DA 181), as the military unit of Saint-Denis Airport is named, deals with fighter aircraft in a decade. The last time was in 2004, when Mirage IVs visited the Indian Ocean outpost. The French Air Force Rafale/C135FR detachment is set to leave Réunion on 25 April.
Source: Armée de l’Air