The French Air Force has replaced the Mirage 2000 that crashed in Niger earlier this month with another aircraft, bringing its fighter aircraft detachment for Mali up to full strength again.
The new Mirage 2000, from Escadron de Chasse 1/33 ‘Navarre’, arrived at Base Aerienne 172 at N’Djamena International Airport in Chad on June 22, according to the French ministry of defence.
The aircraft forms part of a detachment supporting France’s Operational Serval in Mali. France sent soldiers to the country in January last year to wrest it from Islamist groups who had seized most of the north of the country. Around 1 600 French troops are still engaged in operations.
The Mirage 2000 joins two other Mirage 2000Ds and three Rafales. The French Air Force detachment previously operated from Bamako in Mali but moved to N’Djamena on December 22, 2013, reports Air Forces Daily.
The Mirage 2000D that crashed was lost on June 9 when it experienced a technical failure whist returning to N’Djamena from an Operation Serval mission over Mali. The crew were forced to eject and were retrieved safely.
France also has two General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles flying from Niamey in Niger in support of Operation Serval. They began flying from Niamey on January 15 and are operated by Escadron de Drones 1/33 ‘Belfort’, which also flies the Harfang UAV over Mali. Various Gazelle, Puma and Tiger helicopters also support Operation Serval.