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

Jan 14 2013 - 6 Comments

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).

Enhanced by Zemanta
  • Another interesting detail is that despite of being the 2 seat version of the Rafale, the rear seat is empty on all planes.

    • Gaull

      Probably the targeting was done by French special forces on the ground. So no need for a back seater to aim the laser…

  • marc aussure

    Hey David, from your experience if 23 AASMs were used what kind targets would ve been destroyed. I looked briefly only and it seems there are a few variants of the latter but btwn a 125kg and a 1000kg bomb the area of damage would vary a lot!

  • marc aussure

    Ouch disregard my previous comment it seems only the 250kg is in service.

  • Hawkeye

    In fact, they crossed Morocco airpsace and not Algerian one, the authorization came after the raid.

  • Amourer Andy

    Those GBU-12’s are not the enhanced GPS guided model but the legacy INS type.