Tag Archives: Rafale

U.S. Navy Super Hornet refuels French Rafale and Super Etendard jets over USS Carl Vinson

F/A-18E Super Hornet serves as aerial refueler for French combat planes operating from Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier.

The images in this post were taken on Mar. 9 over the Persian Gulf (or “Arabian Gulf” if you want to use the term used by the U.S. armed forces lately).

They show an F/A-18E Super Hornet from the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81 Sunliners refuel two French Super Étendard Marine and one Rafale Marine aircraft from French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the vicinity of U.S. aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).

Operation Inherent Resolve

The French and American nuclear-powered aircraft carriers are currently deployed along with their battle groups to support strike operations in Iraq and Syria.

Last week a Rafale Marine “omnirole” aircraft belonging to the 11F operated aboard the USS Carl Vinson in the last of series of joint training events aimed at improving carrier integration.

Operation Inherent Resolve

Image credit: U.S. Navy


French Air Force celebrates 50th Anniversary of Strategic Air Forces with three stunning special colors

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).

C135 Rafale

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.

Rafale Mir2000

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.

Image credit: French Air Force


NATO Tiger Meet 2014’s most fancy combat planes

NATO Tiger Meet is an annual exercise that gathers squadrons sporting Tiger (or feline) emblems. Planes that attend it, usually get painted in tiger outfits. As happened during 2014 edition in Germany.

NATO Tiger Meet (NTM) is a two-week multi-national mid-size exercise that includes all types of air-to-air and air-to-ground and a wide variety of support missions, comprising CSAR and large COMAOs (Composite Air Operations).

NTM2014 (with spotters days on Jun. 19 and 23) was held at Schleswig – Jagel, in northern Germany.

Along with the first Eurofighter Typhoon in tiger color scheme, several other aircraft attended the drills with brand new, flamboyant tiger color schemes: French Rafales, Polish F-16 Block 52+ jets, Turkish F-16Cs, and Czech JAS-39 Gripen sported cool tiger liveries.

Eurofighter Typhoon

The images in this post, showing some of the most fancy special colored combat planes, were taken by The Aviationist’s photographer Tony Lovelock during NTM2014.

Who wins?

211 Sqn CzAF

Czech AF JAS-39 Gripen 211 Sqn


211 Sqn JAS 39

Czech AF JAS-39 211 Sqn


313 Sqn

Royal Netherlands AF F-16 313 Sqn


F-16 31 Sqn

Belgian AF F-16 31 Sqn


F-16 Polaf.pdf

Polish AF F-16 Block 52+ 6 Sqn


JAS39 Gripen

Czech AF JAS-39 Gripen 211 Sqn


Mirage 2000

French AF Mirage 2000-5F ECE 05.330



French AF Rafale EC 1/7


Typhoon taxi

German AF Eurofighter Typhoon Fighterwing 74.


Italy’s Boeing KC-767 tanker conducts collective aerial refueling certification and testing with Gripen and Rafale fighter jets

Beginning on Sept. 5, Swedish SAAB Gripen deployed to Decimomannu airbase, in Sardinia, and French Rafale and Mirage 2000 aircraft, operating from Istres, France, conducted flying activity aimed at achieving the technical and operational certification to refuel from the Italian Air Force KC-767 tankers.

The “collective” aerial refueling certification activity, organized by Italy with the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the Movement Coordination Centre Europe (MCCE), falls within a series of European initiatives to develop and implement common operational capacities.

Aerial refuelers are considered among the most important assets in any military air campaign.

The recent Air War in Libya highlighted the lack of tankers among the European partners.

Gripen 3

The possibility to work together and share these important assets in a multinational context can help optimizing resources and projecting the air power in a more flexible and immediate way when the need arise.

This concept, dubbed “pooling and sharing” is even more important in light of the ever shrinking Defense budgets.

The activity conducted by the Swedish and French planes with the tanker of the Aeronautica Militare, belonging to the 14° Stormo, based at Pratica di Mare, but flown by aircrews of the RSV (Reparto Sperimentale Volo – Flying Test Wing), is an important step toward future co-operation between Italy, France, Sweden and all the other operators of the aircraft involved in the certification (for instance Hungary and Czech Republic that fly the Gripen), that will allow these European countries to work together in any future military operation.

Gripen 2

The Boeing KC-767A (whose revised version, under the designation KC-46 was selected by the U.S. Air Force in February 2011 for replacing its ageing KC-135s), had its war first at the end of May 2011, few months after the delivery to the Italian Air Force.

During Operation Unified Protector, the new tanker, with a limited flight envelope and not yet certified with all types of receivers, refueled only the Italian assets (using the central fuel hose).

Gripen 1

Since then, more receivers have been certified to refuel from the Italian tanker that is equipped with both the sixth generation flying boom (based on the one of the American KC-10), and three hose and drogue stations, to refuel both aircraft equipped with onboard receptacle and those with a refueling probe: earlier this year, RAF Typhoon fighter jets refueled by the KC-767A tanker on their way to LIMA 2013.

Gripen 4

Image credit: Alessandro Caglieri and Gian Luca Onnis


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Mali Air War: Aerial Refueling Operations

Although it’s in French language, the following video released by the French MoD is quite interesting as it shows the FAF C-135FR refueling ops from N’Djamena, Chad.

The French tanker are quite similar to the U.S. KC-135s. Still, the refueling boom is attached to a basket since FAF planes use the hose and drogue system and get the fuel through a probe.

The footage lets you see the Mirage 2000s and Rafale Air supporting Operation Serval being refueled on their way to the target area in northern Mali.

Mirage 2000 refuel

As happened in Libya, the Mali Air War is suffering from tanker shortage. Even if only a few combat planes are involved in the air strikes, the French Air Force is not equipped with a tanker force capable to sustain a limited amount of attack sorties.

That’s why the U.S. has dispatched some of its KC-135 from RAF Mildenhall and other nations have offered aerial refuelers.

The Italian Air Force has qualified both the French Mirage 2000, Mirage F1CR and Rafale jets as receivers for its Boeing KC-767 during a certification campaign at Mont-de-Marsan: the brand new tanker can now be dispatched to West Africa to support the French air campaign against rebels.

KC-767 qual campaign

Image credit: FAF

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