Tag Archives: Operation Serval

[Photo] French Rafale damages Refueling Probe while taking fuel from U.S. KC-135 tanker over Mali

A U.S. Air Force KC-135 and French Rafale involved in an mid-air emergency over Mali.

Taken from a 100th ARW (Air Refueling Wing) KC-135 Stratotanker during what seemed to be (at least until then) a routine aerial refueling mission in support of Operation Serval, in Mali, the above image shows a French Air Force Rafale jet breaking to the left to separate from the tanker after the tip of IFR (In Flight Refueling) probe was severely damaged.

According to the Escadron de chasse 01.091 “Gascogne”, who posted the image, the aircraft, with full load of weapons, was refueling from the U.S. tanker in turbulent air due to an intertropical front.

A sudden and violent oscillation impossible for the pilot to compensate, forced the Rafale to disconnect from the tanker’s refueling hose causing a cloud of fuel to surround the cockpit and the basket to hit the probe of the receiver, damaging it.

As a consequence, the Rafale immediately separated from the tanker and, unable to return to N’Djamena, it proceeded to the nearest divert field, where it safely landed.

Just in case you thought that AAR operations are just routine

Photo: 100th ARW / U.S. Air Force


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Airbus A400M tactical airlifter makes combat debut in Mali

Released by the Armée de l’Air (French Air Force) these images show the Airbus A400M Atlas tactical airlifter during its first combat sortie in support to Operation Serval in Mali.

The Atlas “F-RBAB” carrying 22 tons of material, took off from Orléans-Bricy airbase on Dec. 29 at 10.30 LT and arrived at Bamako, Mali, after 6 hours and 40 minutes. On Dec. 31, the aircraft flew from Bamako to Gao.

The first A400M was taken on charge by the Multinational Entry into Service Team (MEST) at Orléans on Aug. 2, 2013.  The first operational mission therefore came only five months after the induction of the aircraft into active service.

Currently, two A400M Atlas are assigned to the MEST. The first operational mission is a step towards the type full operational capability of the type, expected in late 2014.

A400M Mali

Image credit: JL. Brunet / Armée de l’Air


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Under Enemy Fire: New exclusive video from attack helicopter shows how Mali War began

Launched on Jan. 11, 2013, at the request of the Malian authorities and the United Nations, the French operation in Mali kicked off with a raid performed by attack helicopters to stop the progression of a column of jihadist elements in the center of the country.

10 months later, footage recorded during the first moments of Operation Serval, recorded on the very first day by the French Army and obtained by France2 has emerged.

The first action was led by Gazelle helicopters with the 4ème Régiment d’Hélicoptères des Forces spéciales (RHFS), armed with HOT missiles and 20 mm caliber guns.

During the raid, one of the choppers was hit and forced to land, a French pilot was deadly wounded by small arms fire.

The scenes of the opening attack by Gazelle and Cougar helicopter are part of an exceptional film that shows the progress of the French military in northern Mali, the hunt for Islamist fighters , the destruction of their positions in the mountains or in the desert.

H/T to Mars Attaque Blog for the heads-up

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France deploys spyplanes to Cyprus to monitor Assad’s next move

As happened in 2011, in the weeks that preceded the kick off of Operation Odyssey Dawn against Gaddafi, airborne surveillance platforms are amassing around Syria.

According to Air Cosmos, two French Navy Atlantique II aircraft were moved to RAF Akrotiri, in Cyprus, where they have joined the two E-3D AWACS and the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets that London has detached in the Eastern Mediterranean sea to provide the air defense of the small island located just 200 km off the Syrian coasts.

The Atlantique maritime patrol aircraft are SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) assets that have been extensively used in Mali, during Operation Serval operating from Dakar, in Senegal. They will be used to eavesdrop Syrian communications and signals to have a better understanding of what is happening in the country.

U-2S aside, the U.S. has moved some Air Force Special Operations Command CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and Special Ops C-130s to Souda Bay, Crete. The aircraft were monitored by aircraft spotters as they flew eastbound via Lajes, Azores. It’s not clear whether they deployed to the Mediterranean Sea following the Syrian crisis or they were involved in a preplanned overseas deployment.

For sure they could be useful to perform Combat SAR and Personnel Recovery missions in case of attack with some manned aircraft. As B-2s or B-52 bombers.

In the meanwhile USS Nimitz is heading towards the Red Sea.

By the way, on Sept. 2, the WC-135 Constant Phoenix sniffer monitored as it flew eastward on Aug. 28, was heard flying back to the U.S. via the Mediterranean Sea and Malta. Was it used to collect evidence of the Syrian chemical attack?

 Image credit: French MoD

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[Video] Extreme low altitude flight over Mali aboard French Special Forces helicopter

Enjoy the view from inside the cabin of a Cougar helicopter, sitting next to the gunner, on an extreme low altitude mission over Mali.

Four Cougar helicopters along with three Tigre attack choppers of the 5e Régiment d’Hélicoptères de Combat (5e RHC), were deployed to Bamako, Mali, since the beginning stages of Operation Serval.

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