Monday, January 13, 2014

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.

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.

 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.

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