By Lieutenant Lise Moricet (French Air Force)
TUESDAY 8 JANUARY 2019- DJIBOUTI
Three Rafale from the Saint-Dizier based fighter squadron 1/4 “Gascogne,” as well as one C-135 from Istres Air Base 125 participated in a long range projection exercise, called “Marathon-Monfreid.”
Eight hours of in-flight time and four air-to-air refuelings were necessary for the Rafales to join in flight the Mirages 2000-5 from the fighter squadron 3/11 “Corse,” permanently stationed on the Djibouti Air Base 188.
Deploying French strategic air capabilities (FAS for « Forces aériennes stratégiques » ) at more than 5500 kilometers from France had two objectives :
- Ensure that fighter crews get proper training for long range air raids while simulating a raid by the nuclear air component (Marathon);
- Train them for first-entry in a high intensity warfare theater in a realistic tactical environment.
Ideally situated in the horn of Africa and at the gates of the Middle East, Djibouti is a unique interallied joint training area.
Of the 1700 military personnel deployed, 300 aviators operate daily from Air Base 188, the first French forward-based operational airbase for French forces prepositioned in Africa.
The Rafale fighter jets then continued on their mission to the island of la Réunion, where FAF Air Detachment 181 is stationed at Saint-Denis, to be followed by the A330 Phénix which has recently been deployed in the force.
Translation from the original French by Chloe Laird.