A Boeing C135R of the French Air Force after its first landing at the revamped Niamey airfield in Niger on 31 December 2014 (Image © Ministère de la Défense)

Second ops base for French tankers in African fight

The French forces in Central Africa have a fully functional second airbase at their disposal. As confirmed earlier this week by the French Ministry of Defence, the first big Boeing C135R landed at Niamey on 31 December 2015. It marked a milestone in months of upgrading work by French armed forces engineers.

The 25e Régiment du Génie de l’Air (RGA) started its job in April last year with repairs to the military taxiway. The engineers than added a temporary parking space for what the Americans call the Stratotanker, awaiting completion of a permanent parking lot by mid-2015.

Being able to base a C135R adds big value to the French Operation Barkhane in Central Africa, where aerial refuelling is essential to keep the Mirage 2000Ds at Niamey and the Rafales at N’Djamena in Chad airborne to support ground forces effectively. With the C135R also able to operate from Niamey the combat jets can stay airborne for a longer period of time.

Barkhane is the name of the joint effort to fight rebel and terrorists groups in the Sahel-Sahara Region (BSS-forces). About 3,000 French ground troops are included in the mission.

Source: Ministère de la Défense

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A Boeing C135R of the French Air Force after its first landing at the revamped Niamey airfield in Niger on 31 December 2014 (Image © Ministère de la Défense)
A Boeing C135R of the French Air Force after its first landing at the revamped Niamey airfield in Niger on 31 December 2014 (Image © Ministère de la Défense)