French Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace News & Discussion

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The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
The French Air and Space Force performed a long-range power projection exercise last week.

In this exercise called HEIFARA a group of 3 Rafale F3R and 2 A400M Atlas supported by 2 A330 MRTT Phenix flew from France to Tahiti (French Polynesia) over a distance of 17,000 km, performed an initial entry raid into contested airspace culminating in tactical strikes, then after "securing" an airfield - 39 hours after departure from France - performed high-intensity missions with 40 sorties over the next 5 days - reconnaissance, escort and strike sorties for the Rafales, tactical transport, SAR and (real) logistics missions for the A400M; including support missions for army ground forces and French Navy in the theater.

The A330MRTT, besides air-to-air refueling, also transported a company-sized expeditionary ground support element and upon entry to the theater established a satcom datalink for direct reachback from the fighters to a command center established in Lyon. The two A400M took along 30 tons of material from France to Tahiti.

The flight to Tahiti was performed with a single stopover in California, also establishing the longest-duration nonstop flight for Rafales so far - 12 hours for about 10,000 km, with 7 air-to-air refuelings.

HEIFARA is a test exercise, and part of an escalating series of similar missions over the past couple years, representing an important step in them. The target is to perform a full-scale exercise in 2023 that will test the full power projection level of ambition of the AdAedE. That level of ambition is to project a combat force of 20 Rafales over a distance of 20,000 km - i.e. globally - within 48 hours at any time, supported by up to 10 A330 MRTT.

You can find a detailed official press dossier on the exercise here (in English).

Official teaser video:
 
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