France rotates Barkhane aircraft


The French Air Force has rotated some of its aircraft deployed in Africa as part of Operation Barkhane.

Four two-seater Dassault Rafales based at N’Djamena in Chad were relieved by four single seaters on 9 August after a two month deployment. The two-seaters flew back to France the following day with the newly arrived aircraft beginning a four month stint in the African country, although the crews will be rotated after two months.

While deployed in Chad the Rafale crews flew more than 170 sorties totalling 500 flight hours. The sorties included two night strafing missions.

Meanwhile, on 1 August, France relieved a C-135 tanker and its crew at Niamey, Niger. This detachment, on permanent alert, gives in-flight refuelling support throughout the Sahel-Sahara region and is part of Operation Barkhane.

Last month the French Air Force rotated two of its four Mirage 2000C fighter jets in Niamey. The aircraft deployed to Base Aérienne 101 Niamey on 2 July to replace two of the four Mirage 2000Ds stationed there. The aircraft were refuelled by C135 aircraft and made a stopover in Dakar, Senegal, before arriving on 3 July.

The French Air Force said the four Mirage 2000s were 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 as part of Operate Barkhane, amongst other assets.

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, six fighter aircraft and ten transport aircraft to Africa for operations in countries like Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso.