French Air Force Rafales with Reco NG pod operate out of the UAE to map rebel forces in Iraq (Image © Armée de l'Air)

French Rafales and C135 eye Iraq

French Air Force Rafales with Reco NG pod operate out of the UAE to map rebel forces in Iraq (Image © Armée de l'Air)
French Air Force Rafales with Reco NG pod operate out of the UAE to map rebel forces in Iraq (Image © Armée de l’Air)

While the US and soon Australian are gearing up for continuous bombing of positions of the so-called Islamic State forces (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, the French Air Force dispatched a pair of its newest Rafale fighter jets to the area.

These aircraft – according to various test reports from countries evaluating them currently one of the best new fighter jets around – are operating from Al Dhafra Airbase in the United Arab Emirates. The machines use the Reco NG pod underneath for the task. This allows the collection of digital images at high and low altitudes and shooting high speed day and night video surveillance footage. The collected data will be used to monitor ISIS forces, which are called Groupe Daech in French.

The mission has been supported by the newest airlift star of the Armée de l’Air: the Airbus A400M Atlas from BA123 Orléans-Bricy, as early as 13 September 2014. A Boeing C135 tanker from BA125 Istres has strengthened the French deployment and landed at Al Dhafra on 14 September.

The Rafales flew their first operational sortie on 15 September, a mission that took 5 hours including refueling by the C135. Paris wants to collect it independent information on Daech/ISIS/ISIL movements and not rely on intel possibly coming from the Americans.

Source: Ministère de la Défense / Armée de l’Air

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French Air Force A400M on the ground at Al Dhafra, UAE (Image © Armée de l'Air)
French Air Force A400M on the ground at Al Dhafra, UAE (Image © Armée de l’Air)
French Air Force C135 tanker leaving Istres for Al Dhafra, UAE (Image © Armée de l'Air)
French Air Force C135 tanker leaving Istres for Al Dhafra, UAE (Image © Armée de l’Air)