French Rafale jets deploy to Poland (without the markings of the unit which fought alongside Soviets in WWII)

Four French Air Force Rafales have deployed to Poland. The aircraft don’t sport the traditional tail markings and the reason may be their unit fough alongside the Soviets in WWII.

At 09.40 GMT, four French Air Force Rafale “omnirole” jets landed at Malbork airbase in Poland, where they have been deployed to reinforce NATO and its allies presence around Ukraine.

The combat planes belong to two squadrons of the Armée de l’Air: the EC 1/7 “Provence”, based at Saint Dizier and the EC 2/30 “Normandie-Niémen” from Mont-de-Marsan.

The French planes had their unit markings removed from their tails, in what seems to be a symbolic act rather than a specific operational requirement, considering that squadron badges were not erased in previous combat operations (for instance Libya Air War in 2011).

The “Normandie-Niémen” was the only French Air Force unit (a Regiment) to fight alongside the Soviets until the end of the war in Europe, during WWII; considered the growing tension with Russia following the invasion and annexation of Crimea, most probably, Paris did not want to deploy aircraft whose markings could somehow recall a glorious past of joint operations with Moscow’s air armada.

A bit of Psyops?

Rafale Poland

Image credit: French MoD /EMA


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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.


  1. Removing the emblems because it may cause offense… What about causing offence to the veterans that actually fought in that particular unit during WWII?
    The RAF currently have a Typhoon in D-Day markings, now it’s a matter of time before they’re removed in case someone gets offended.

  2. Honestly, I don’t know why they have done that. Contemporary Polish military aviation, despite of being part of the NATO now, has its origin in Polish air units, that fought in WWII alongside the Soviet Union. The very air unit based in Marlbork – the 41st Tactical Squadron, is the direct descendant of the Fist Mixed Airforce Brigade “Pomorska” and the First Fighter Wing “Warsaw” (1 Pulk Lotnictwa Mysliwskiego “Warszawa”) whose beginnings could be easily traced back to the Polish First Independent Fighter Squadron (1 Samodzielna Eskadra Lotnicza), formed in Ryazan Oblast, the USSR, in 1943. Traditions of Polish units, which fought alongside Red Army is still maintained, so there was no reason for such a demonstration.

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