French Rafale “omnirole” fighter jets join air strikes in Mali. With brand new weapons.

Jan. 13 saw the first involvement of the Rafale combat planes in the French air campaign in Mali.

Four “omnirole” jets from Saint Dizier airbase, took off from their base and, supported by two C-135FR tankers, attacked rebel’s training camps, infrastructure, logistic deposits before recovering to N’Djamena airbase, in Chad.


Image credit: Sirpa Air

Most probably, the aircraft crossed the Algerian airspace on their way to Mali, since Algeria has authorized unlimited access to fly over its territory.

The Rafales carried three fuel tanks, six GBU-49 5(00-lb Enhanced Paveway II GPS/INS-equipped GBU-12/B Laser Guided Bomb variants) or six AASM (Armement Air-Sol Modulaire – Air-to-Ground Modular Weapon) along with the Damocles pod.

According to the Rafale News blog, this was the first time that the Rafale used the dual mode (laser/GPS) GBU-49 guided bomb during a war mission as the intergration of this kind of weapon was only recently completed.

Rafale 1

Image credit: Sirpa Air

As per the video released by the French MoD after the raid and showing the four jets landing in Chad at the end of their strike mission, 21 weapons were released during the attack, since one of the jets still has three of its six AASM.

The four jets are currently deployed to N’Djamena airbase will reinforce the French contingent involved in Operation Serval.

As shown in Libya, during the 2011’s Air War, the Rafale is capable to perform a wide range of missions, including air-to-air refueling and reconnaissance (the latter by means of the Reco-NG pod).

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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.