The French Air Force has withdrawn its two Mirage 2000D fighter jets from Niamey, Niger, serving with Operation Barkhane.
The aircraft had been deployed in Niger from April 2014 in support of operations in Mali, as France’s deployment at N’Djamena in Chad was further away. They were withdrawn on 18 February and reassigned to Jordan to support Operation Chammal, France’s mission against Islamic State.
Barkhane operations will continue with two remaining Mirage 2000Cs at Niamey, although they may also be withdrawn. The Mirage 2000s are typically tasked with ground attack missions using GBU12 and Mk 82 bombs.
France also has General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles deployed in Niger while the French army has helicopters stationed in Mali. Four Dassault Rafale fighters are based at N’Djamena. They typically remain in Chad for four months, although the crews are rotated every two months. An indication of how busy the aircraft are came in August 2015. It emerged that in their four month stint they flew 170 sorties totalling 500 flight hours.
Operation Barkhane, launched in August 2014, includes 3 000 troops whose mission, in partnership with the countries of the Sahel G5, is to combat armed terrorist groups in the Sahel-Sahara region. France has also deployed some twenty helicopters, 200 logistics vehicles, 200 armoured vehicles and ten transport aircraft to Africa for operations in countries like Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso.
On 14 February France announced the deployment of three Lance Roquette Unitaire (LRU) systems (a modified M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System) from the French Army’s 1st Artillery Regiment to Mali.