Two Dassault Rafales have completed a non-stop flight from the Réunion island in the Indian Ocean to France to demonstrate the long-range projection capability of the French Air Force.
Two Dassault Rafales have completed a non-stop flight from the Réunion island in the Indian Ocean to France. The flight, lasting almost 12 hours (a record for the Rafale), was intended to demonstrate the long-range projection capability of the French Air Force.
The Rafales took off from Réunion on 17th January, along with the French AF's recently delivered A330 MRTT Phénix tanker. The mission involved a total of five refuelling contacts. With additional cargo and passengers on board, the A330 MRTT was unable to carry sufficient fuel to perform all of these refuelling operations. A C-135 based in Djibouti performed two refuelling operations over the Red Sea, while a third tanker took off from Istres, France to carry out the final fuel transfer.
The flight culminated with a tactical exercise in French airspace to evaluate the operational capacities of the crew after the marathon flight. The two Rafales performed a penetration mission including the simulated launch of an ASMPA missile while evading interceptor aircraft that had taken off from Saint Dizier.
Though the Rafales involved in the mission were both two-seat Rafale Bs from the French strategic force (Forces Aériennes Stratégiques), single-seat Rafales can also perform long-range missions. The strikes on Syria in April 2018, for example, involved Rafale Cs and Bs.