Tag Archives: Rafale

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

Mirage 2000 refuel

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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Libyan Air force to be re-equipped with Rafale and Typhoon multi-role fighters. And some U.S. planes too.

Quoting the Libyan Air Force Chief of Staff  Saqr Geroushi a recent article by the Libyan Herald reported that proposals have been drawn up to re-equip Tripoli’s dilapidated fleet with a special consideration given to those countries that assisted Libya during the last year’s air war: France,  UK, and the U.S.

Putting a few more details into his comments, Geroushi said that the Libyan Arab Air Force is looking to purchase two squadrons of French Rafale, along with a number of French Mirage F-1 aircraft (to bolster those they already have). The Libyans also plan to buy Eurofighter Typhoons from the UK as well as some more C-130 cargo planes and Ch-47 Chinook helicopters from the United States.

Image credit: Dassault Aviation

Therefore, although they have been challenging each other in the most important bids all around the world (and they could be considered a bit redundant as well) the Typhoon and Rafale multi-role fighters could soon operate under the same flag.

The new aircraft will probably replace most of the remaining 28 aircraft (some of those are old Mig fighters) and 9 helicopters most of which have seen better days.

Geroushi said that the plan is to base the Typhoons at Tobruk and Benina airbase in Benghazi, with the Rafale and Mirage jets flying from Gordabaya and Wattya military air bases. Furthermore, all contracts that were signed under the previous regime will be reviewed and some would more than likely be cancelled.

The Libyan Air Force is currently flying regular sorties mostly border security type missions.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Image credit: Eurofighter / K. Tokunaga

Photo report: French Mirage 2000s and Italian Typhoons at Grosseto airbase

Taken at Grosseto airbase by Alessandro Fucito, the following pictures show the two French Air Force Mirage 2000s that paid a visit to the local-based 4° Stormo’s Eurofighter Typhoons on Apr. 12.

Noteworthy, the two French Mirages still wore the markings of the EC. 01/012, a unit previously based at BA103 Cambrai and disbanded on Mar. 30, 2012 (the SPA 162 “Tiger” banner and traditions was attached to the EC.01/007 “Provence” flying the Rafale at Saint-Dizier).

Image credit: Alessandro Fucito

Following on India's MMRCA win, Rafale on the verge of winning UAE fighter deal?

Has Dassault won a 60 jet deal with the UAE?

French newspaper La Tribune reported on Feb. 2, 2012, that France could be on the verge of winning a long-awaited $10billion 60 jet deal with the United Arab Emerates which could be signed as soon as April.

Citing unidentified sources, the paper said on its website that President Nicolas Sarkozy would go to the UAE in March or early April when the contract is likely to be finalised.

The rumor comes only days after Dassalt virtually won the Indian MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) deal and few months after Eurofighter consortium, beaten in the “mother of all tenders”, received  an RFP (Request For Proposal) by the UAE Air Force.

The deal has been in the pipeline since 2008 but negotiations stalled when the UAE described it as “uncompetitive and unworkable.” and had asked for information about the Typhoon. Althought how the deal was unlocked remains unclear a source told La Tribune that every issue has been solved.

If confirmed, this new order will unlock the possibility of further middle east deals for Dassault and Rafale in the Gulf, where countries could benefit of inter-operability that a common platform could offer. Qatar Emiri Air Force whose Mirage 2000s have taken part to the Air War in Libya  operating side to side with the French Air Force combat planes out of Souda Bay, Crete, could buy 24 to 36 Rafale to replace its ageing Mirages. Kuwait last year said it was also considering buying Rafales.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist

Photo by Alessandro Fucito