The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle has started operations against Islamic State (ISIS) forces in Iraq alongside the US Navy’s USS Carl Vinson. Flying from the French carrier are twelve Dassault Rafale M multi role fighters, nine Dassault Super Étendards and one Grumman E-2 Hawkeye.
After leaving France, the carrier and its aircraft were involved in training exercises with the Italians and the Greeks. The ship crossed the Suez Canal on 26 January. Most of the aircraft onboard are shore based at Landiviseau airbase in Bretagne.
In total, French air assets in the strikes against ISIS – known by the French under code name Operation Chammal – now include six Armée de l’ Air Dassault Rafales, six Dassault Mirage 2000Ds, one Boeing C-135FR air-to-air, one Atlantique 2 maritime patrol aircraft, and the aircraft sailing along on the Charles de Gaulle.
The French Navy put the spearhead of its military power out in the Mediterranean this week. A nuclear attack submarine, anti-submarine frigate Montcalm and air defense frigate Chevalier Paul formed around aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. The cream on top of this Task Force 473 were 12 Dassault Rafale M.
Landivisau Airbase’s 11F Squadron was one of the centre pieces in what is officially called the PEAN: Période d’Entraînement de l’Aéronautique Navale, or Training Period of Naval Aviation. Target is to test the operational qualification and cohesion of the air-maritime rapid reaction force. Area of conduct: a 150 miles (240 km) stretch of sea between Toulon and the island of Corsica.
Together with navy personnel on board the ships of TF 473 the Rafale Ms trained on anti-air, anti-ship, combat air rescue and air support missions. The PEAN period is concluded with an air and sea power projection on a simulated enemy, lasting two days.