Armée de l’air celebrated the 50th anniversary of the FAS (forces aériennes stratégiques) with three special colored planes.
On Oct. 3, with a ceremony held at Istres airbase, the French Air Force celebrated 50 years of French deterrence by the Forces Aériennes Strategiques which are responsible for Paris’s nuclear weapons.
The first nuclear alert took place on Oct. 8, 1964 with a Dassault Mirage IV, armed with AN-11 nuclear bombs, supported by a Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker of the so-called Force de Frappe (French for Strike Force).
French assets of the FAS have been on continouos alert since then, an achievement marked with three special colors: a Rafale, a Mirage 2000N and a C-135FR.
Two are the nuclear squadrons of the French Air Force, each consisting of 20 aircraft: EC (Escadron de chasse) 1/91 Gascogne at Saint-Dizier equipped with the Rafale B, and EC 2/4 Lafayette at Istres equipped with the Mirage 2000N.
According to the French pilots, aerial combat with the Raptor is extremely important, regardless of the outcome of the dogfight: training with the F-22 gives French Mirage 2000 the possibility to learn to fight against a superior fighter: “Sometimes a battle begins even before meeting the adversary, when it is necessary to convince themselves that the opponent is not so terrible, and despite the gap of performance, the technological chasm, one is able to get the game.”
Brazil operates a fleet of 12 Mirage 2000 single and two-seat fighter planes that are used for air-defense purposes.
The Mirages, known as “Jaguars” in the Brazilian Air Force (Força Aérea Brasileira – FAB), were obtained from a French Air Force surplus between 2006 and 2008. They are assigned to the 1º Grupo de Defesa Aérea (1º GDA – 1st Air Defence Group), based at Annapolis, in Central-West Brazil, and they will be withdrawn from service by the end of 2013.
For this reason, the cool image taken by an FAB photographer from the backseat of a Mirage 2000B may be one of the last ones shot aboard the French plane.
The Mirage 2000 was to be replaced by the future Brazilian fighter F-X2. However, until a next generation fighter plane is selected (the procurement of a new fighter jet started at the beginning of the 2000s as F-X….), Brazil will replace the Mirages with some upgraded F-5 Tigers.
About 90 airplanes and nine helicopters, and more than 2,000 Brazilian and foreign military personnel are currently taking part to Cruzex 2013, South America’s largest military exercise this year.
Hosted by the airbases of Natal and Recife, in the north of Brazil, the international drills organized by the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) is attended by the air forces of Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela. It could have been even larger if Argentina would not drop out at last moment.
Cruzex will last till Nov. 15, providing an opportunity for the participating air forces to train in modern war scenario.
A distinctive feature of Cruzex drills is the media flight arranged by FAB to give photographers the opportunity to shoot a large formation made of several aircraft types taking part in the exercise from the cargo door of a C-130.