The French armed forces are stepping up efforts against the rebel / terrorist organisation Boko Haram in Nigeria. French officials told Reuters that their military planes are conducting reconnaissance missions on the edges, but not in, Nigerian airspace.
Part of Operation Barkhane in Central Africa and Mali, the French have Mirage 2000Ds in Niamey and Rafales at N’Djamena in Chad. Since the beginning of this year even the large and heavy C135R tanker can use both airbases to help the fighter jets stay in the air longer.
It is very much likely that it are the Rafales which are conducting the recon missions against Boko Haram, in order to help the Chadian and Nigerian military to combat this force that has grown more dangerous over the last couple of months. N’Djamena is only 30 miles (50 km) from the Nigerian border. The French Army has 3,200 troops in Chad and Mali to fight what is officially called by the French “la bande sahélo-saharienne (BSS): Mauritanie, Mali, Niger, Tchad et Burkina-Faso”. The French forces include Tigre attack and NH90 transport helicopters.
Force Aérienne Tchadienne
A Chadian Air Force (Force Aérienne Tchadienne) jet – likely one of six Sukhoi Su-25s – bombed Boko Haram troops in a Nigerian border town last month, sources say, in an attempt to help downgrade the threat of the rebel group. The Chadian military will take part in the African Union (AU) force that is said to number 7,500 troops from Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Benin as well to combat Boko Haram. If the AU succeeds in getting a UN Security Council mandate other nations – including the French – might step in to provide military airlift.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, including source information provided by the French Ministry of Defence
Featured image (top): A French Air Force Dassault Rafale B taking off (Image © Dennis Spronk)
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